How Does your Consumers' Brain See your Logo?

How Does your Consumers' Brain See your Logo?

Have you ever wondered what happens in the brain of your consumers when they see your brand?

Neuroscience tells us that a logo - and the brand it stands for – can activate large portions of the brain in about 1/3 of a second, well before conscious thoughts. This means that consumers make subconscious decisions about your brand even before they have put their minds to perform such a task.

The yellow arches of McDonald's, for example, evoke automatic thoughts of "Hamburger" and "Fries" even if consumers see this logo for less than 80 milliseconds (1/12 of a second).

Considering that subliminal information influences subsequent behavior even long time after it has been processed, knowing how your consumers see your brand is indeed a tremendous asset over your competition.

But, how to create a brand logo that sticks?

This is where neuroscience enters and fills the gaps, providing you with key facts/concepts to help create visually appealing logos that please the eyes and stay in consumer's memories.

The Science Behind It

When we look at a logo, the parts of the brain delegated to process every image (namely occipital, occipitotemporal and occipitoparietal cortices) are put into action. Part of their role is to analyze the logo's:

  • Shape
  • Color
  • Size
  • Position
  • Brightness

They also process the:

  • Presence of edges and round parts
  • Presence of shadows
  • Symmetry of the parts

Brain Model

This is done in between 80 and 300 milliseconds. At the same time, all these information is “dispatched” to the brain's deeper, emotional parts involved in both fear and pleasure responses. One such part is the amygdala (a small almond-shaped region located deep in the brain, directly behind the eyes) that receives information from the brain's visual areas. In split seconds or less, the amygdala makes a fast (and coarse) evaluation of the logo's emotional content.

Does it evoke positive or negative feelings?
Does it exude a sense of trustworthiness?

Then, using the so-called “top-down” information processing mechanism, the amygdala sends back information to the visual areas.

Besides the amygdala, the brain also has a reward system comprised of regions such as the striatum, prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and insula. These are behind what we tend to refer to as “the first impressions”.

So, when you see a logo, you can tell whether it belongs to a liked or disliked brand that has made you happy or unhappy in the past. Based on how the brain perceives it, you may feel motivated to buy that brand product(s) or be totally withdrawn from doing so.

If you think that all these processes occur before you make any conscious thoughts and decisions and that your brain makes these automatic decisions even if a logo is shown subliminally (<80 milliseconds), you can understand how incredibly important it is to be able to master first impressions, that according to studies stay strong inside us for a long time after being exposed.

Predicting Consumers' Behavior: Is it Possible?

Considering all the above, we wanted to explore consumers reactions to three different versions of a simple logo, trying to figure out how the brain activity was influenced by logo appearance.

Would we be able to predict, using neuromarketing tools, which of these logo versions had more probability to make a good first impression to consumers?

The Project

To get a solid answer to that question, we provided a group of consumers the following three versions of a logo. It was a simple graphic design that only differed for the logo signature, which was a geometric pattern placed in the middle, left, and right part of the logo respectively.

Brain Model

It was a two-phase project:

1st Phase
We asked 20 consumers (age range 20-50 years old; 8 females and 12 males) to explicitly rate which of the three logos they preferred the most (on a 5-points Likert scale). The criteria for their preference were quite broad. They could prefer a logo for its font, graphic design, colors or any other reason. They only had to rate the logos and show us which they liked the most. This method is similar to those usually used in traditional market research investigation, with people verbally judging whether they like or dislike a certain product/brand.

Brain Model

2nd Phase
We selected a subgroup of volunteers that were asked to do the exact same thing, only wearing our EEG (Electroencephalographic) cap and eye-tracker glasses. Of the 20 participants, 6 accepted to do an EEG & Eye-tracker session with us. We used a 32-channel EEG, plus 3 detectors for eye movements, and a fast sampling rate eye-tracker glasses. Volunteers had to watch the logos projected onto a PC screen in a rapid sequence (the logos appeared for very brief time – i.e. less than 300 milliseconds)³.

Brain Model


The results from the explicit ratings were not clear. The participants said they mostly preferred logo 1 and logo 3 and that they were quite indifferent to logo 2. But, it was not possible to understand which of these two logos (1 and 3) was mostly appealing to their eyes.

Brain Model
Therefore traditional market research methods failed in identifying which specific logo was more pleasant and visually engaging.

On the contrary, the data we obtained with the EEG & Eyetracker, were quite defined².

At no more than 120 milliseconds after the appearance of Logo 1, the EEG signal showed that the brain was strongly captured by it and that the mechanisms described above (engagement of the brain's visual parts) were almost instantly initiated. It appeared that placing the signature in the center of the logo had a strong effect on the brain. We can't say the same for Logos 2 & 3 that did not engage the participants' brain as much.

The results from the Eye-tracker came to confirm that hypothesis. All the participants tended to look mainly at the central part of the logo, and for a longer time, compared to the other parts of the logo. Clearly, that was the “heart” of the stimulus! Therefore, placing the brand signature in the central part can result in a successful strategy ¹.

Brain Model

To conclude, memorable brands influence consumers daily choices, desires and preferences. How do consumers associate a simple graphic sign with specific emotions and thoughts, depends on complex brain links and neural crosstalks.

How to make your brand irresistible is just one of the many fundamental questions nuroscience can help you answer to, so you can create powerful and innovative marketing strategies.

To know more about how neuromarketing can help solidify your online and offline presence in the eyes of consumers and be the brand of choice, just ask for one of our complete case studies.

¹ The results here provided are only relative to this type of logo arrangement, with this kind of font and these specific colors.

² This study is a pilot, for complete "brand-perception" studies we use bigger sample size.

³ All the specifications of the complex experimental design and the full results are not detailed here.