Beyond the Logo: Two Essays on the Influence of Logo Design on Brand Evaluation




Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Over the past decade, consumer researchers have highlighted the indispensable role of aesthetics in marketing. Consumers make inferences and decisions regarding a brand or an organization through the aesthetic features of a related product, from the logo design (Jiang, Gorn, and Chattopadhyay 2016; Hagtvedt 2011) to the packaging appeal (Krishna, Cian, and Aydınoğlu 2017; Sundar and Noseworthy 2014), from the choice of color (Wedel and Pieters 2014) to the dynamism of the visual cues (Cian, Krishna, and Elder 2015). In general, research finds that consumers do not simply observe these aesthetic cues but also draw their own inferences to form conclusions about a related brand or organization (Patrick 2016; Townsend 2017). With this dissertation, I seek to contribute to the consumer aesthetics literature by investigating how specific visual elements of a logo design, such as symmetry or negative space, can connote symbolic meaning and prompt consumer actions. The two essays of this dissertation proposal examine the visual elements of symmetry (Essay 1) and negative space (Essay 2). In Essay 1 of my dissertation, I investigate how the visual symmetry of a logo design (symmetrical vs. asymmetrical logos) can convey the abstract concept of social inequality, which in turns motivates prosocial actions. Prior research has established that humans (even babies, Humphrey and Humphrey 1989; Humphrey, Humphrey, Muir, and Dodwell 1986) display a strong preference for symmetrical visual cues (Attneave 1955), and that symmetrical designs are perceived as more visually pleasing (Szilagyi and Baird 1977). Despite the large body of research on symmetry and its salience in human visual perception, little is known about people’s perception of asymmetrical visual cues and whether asymmetry can evoke more favorable responses. Drawing on an anthropological perspective of symmetry (Washburn 1999), I propose that people form a strong association between visual symmetry and the state of equality, such that asymmetrical visual cues (e.g. logo design) are associated with a state of inequality while symmetrical visual cues are associated with a state of equality. I define inequality as the general sense of the existence of unequal opportunities and resources for different social positions or statuses within a society (adapted from Schaefer 2007, Payne 2017). Further, because asymmetrical (vs. symmetrical) design is associated with greater perceptions of inequality, I posit that asymmetrical (vs. symmetrical) design will lead to greater prosocial actions because consumers are motivated to reduce the perceived inequality. I also postulate that the effect of visual symmetry (symmetrical vs. asymmetrical logos) on prosocial actions is moderated by the message frame, such that symmetrical (vs. asymmetrical) logo design can enhance the effectiveness of gain-framed (vs. loss-framed) donation appeals respectively. The essay aims to demonstrate how visual cues (e.g. symmetry) can convey abstract concepts (e.g. social inequality) to prompt consumer prosocial action. In Essay 2 of my dissertation, I examine how negative space (vs. positive space) logo design can enhance consumer engagement and brand attitude. Negative space is defined as the empty or open space around and between the subject(s) of an image. Negative space is used in logo design when the space around (or in between) a visual subject (e.g., the brand name in a logo) is modified/constructed to form an interesting or artistically relevant form that lends added meaning to the main subject itself. A negative space logo often uses negative space to subtly convey a hidden message or image without the addition of design elements. In contrast, a positive space logo design simply adds additional design elements to a visual subject to directly (non-subtly) convey meaning. I propose that negative space (vs. positive space) logos evoke greater levels of engagement because consumers participate in the visual completion of the logo design. By enhancing engagement, negative space (vs. positive space) logos will also lead to more favorable brand attitudes. Further, I postulate that the effect of logo design (negative space vs. positive space) on engagement and brand attitudes is moderated by brand characteristics (modern vs. traditional), such that negative space (positive space) enhances engagement and brand attitudes for modern (traditional) brands. The findings of the second essay aim to provide a better understanding of negative space in brand logos and to demonstrate how a logo design can become more engaging by ‘hiding’ away a visual element for consumers to discover.



Aesthetics, Logo