The Effect of Incomplete Logos on Brand Perception

incomplete logos.png

A study has found that companies with typographic logos that are intentionally missing or blanked out parts of the characters (think IBM) are perceived as less trustworthy but more innovative.  "The former influence is tied to the logo's perceived clarity, while the latter influence is tied to its perceived interestingness."

Consumers with a prevention focus (?) have an overall unfavorable attitude towards the firms with incomplete logos.

Reference: Henrik Hagtvedt (2011) The Impact of Incomplete Typeface Logos on Perceptions of the Firm. Journal of Marketing: July 2011, Vol. 75, No. 4, pp. 86-93.

What Does Your Typeface Taste Like?

In "The Taste of Typeface" paper: 

"Participants matched rounder typefaces with the word “sweet,” while matching more angular typefaces with the taste words “bitter,” “salty,” and “sour.”

Why would people match tastes and typefaces varying in their roundness and angularity? The more that an individual likes a taste, the more they will choose a round shape to match it to, and the less they like it, the more they will tend to associate the taste with an angular shape instead." 

Logos of Powerful Brands Should Be Placed Higher

Consumers prefer brands with a high standing and influence in the marketplace more when the logo is featured high on the packaging rather than low.

They prefer less powerful brands more when the brand logo is featured low rather than high.  "The underlying mechanism for this shift in preference is a fluency effect (?) derived from consumers intuitively linking the concept of power with height."

What about "fake it till you make it?"

"There is the possibility that managers may choose to place their logo high to signal power even when such a strategy does not match their brand’s true category standing. Although valid, the current research suggests that when category standing is known by the consumer, this strategy may not work."

Reference: Aparna Sundar and Theodore J. Noseworthy (2014) Place the Logo High or Low? Using Conceptual Metaphors of Power in Packaging Design. Journal of Marketing: September 2014, Vol. 78, No. 5, pp. 138-151.


When to Test Your Prototype

Rough drafts are the staple of the creative business. Art directors sketch and storyboard. Interaction designers mock and prototype.  

How soon should you put it in front of people?

On the one hand, here's an IDEO designer with a post "Why You Should Start Prototyping—Right Now":

Instead of starting with our usual process where we gather inspiration, we thought: What if we share a prototype we are really excited about with the client right away?

A head of design at Atlassian invokes Jony Ive:

"[The design process] is about designing and prototyping and making. When you separate those, the final result suffers."

And continues:

Just like a picture is worth a thousand words, a prototype is worth a thousand user stories.

On the other hand, Alan Cooper cautions in a Twitter thread:

Prototyping and testing is not interaction design. It helps, but it isn’t user centered. It’s designer centered. Prototyping & testing has one huge virtue: it makes management happy because it never rocks the boat. It never requires big changes. It always keeps the designer in command. It’s very ego gratifying.

When you put an artifact in front of a user, you instantly shut down an infinity of good ideas, avenues of thought, opportunities to create. 

The first prototype you show sets the direction for everything that follows. It becomes the reference point. Put the first button in the wrong hole, and you'll will mess up the rest. 


30 Reasons to Use a Phone in the Store

New smartphone-enabled behaviors such as comparison shopping present obvious challenges. Many others, though, are good for the stores. Some reduce distractions: using phones as pacifiers for impatient children. Some provide information that reduces anxiety about the purchase.

When designing a mobile strategy for your store shoppers, consider that there are at least 30 different reasons why people are on their phones. 



1. Find a store that carries the merchandise they need using search and navigation apps
2. Go to the store to check out the merchandise they are planning to buy online (aka showrooming)
3. Post their impressions, pictures and videos of the merchandise while shopping
4. Alert others about the rare or discounted merchandise they found
5. Bring in detailed product information to the store instead of having their shopping process guided by the sales staff (in auto dealerships, for example)


6. Find their way to the store using a GPS app
7. Take a picture of the car to remember later where it’s parked
8. Use the phone as a shopping list
9. Receive updates for their shopping list from someone else (a friend, a spouse)
10. Arrange their shopping list in a way that minimizes their shopping time (and any accidental exposure to unplanned merchandise)
11. Use their smartphone to entertain young children to shop in peace
12. Use the smartphone to kill time while waiting for someone else to finish shopping
13. Receive offers from competing business while shopping at a store or navigating at a mall
14. "Bookmark" merchandise by taking pictures for future reference
15. Monitor things back home through a video feed and shop in peace
16. Check for important work emails, which before would have required being physically present 


17. Use their smartphone’s front camera as a mirror (when trying on glasses, for example)
18. Send a picture of the item to someone else for confirmation of correct selection (are these the tampons you need, honey?), or for approval (you look great in those)
19. Look up ratings and reviews for an item they are considering
20. Look up dimensions and other specifications for an item
21. Look up post-purchase information:  additional costs (insurance or add-ons, for example), as well as usage, care, or assembly instructions
22. Take and send pictures of the merchandise  they are considering to friends and receive their friends’ feedback
23. Look at pictures taken earlier for reference (pictures of a room, for example, when selecting a carpet)
24. Compare the item's price against the store’s own prices online. Compare the price against other online and  brick-and-mortar stores
25. Look up price change history for the item
26. Look for online coupons for the store they are already in
27. Like something, then look up its availability at competitors or at more convenient locations


27. Carry loyalty cards with them at all times on their phone
28. Look at the phone during the check-out process and not at the shelves, driving the sales of the impulse-purchase merchandise down
29. Abandon the purchase and buy the same item online in order to save money or to avoid standing in line or having to carry it
30. Pay with the phone


Where are things going in the next 10 years? Will phones detect our our subconscious reactions to the merchandise and make suggestions?  Will voice assistants sternly suggest we pay a lower price elsewhere?  Will they prevent us from overindulging and buying two tubs of ice-cream instead of one? Will we see floating AR-enabled arrows pointing towards the shelves that have the items from our shopping list?   

How Likely Is Probably?

When you are asking research participants to estimate how likely something is to happen,  there are several pitfalls to watch out for.  One of them is the lack of consensus about the meaning of words.


From Psychology of Intelligence Analysis published by the CIA:

The table [above] shows the results of an experiment with 23 NATO military officers accustomed to reading intelligence reports. They were given a number of sentences such as: “It is highly unlikely that...”

All the sentences were the same except that the verbal expressions of probability changed. The officers were asked what percentage probability they would attribute to each statement if they read it in an intelligence report. Each dot in the table represents one officer’s probability assignment. While there was broad consensus about the meaning of “better than even,” there was a wide disparity in interpretation of other probability expressions.



Inspired by Sherman's experiment, a Reddit user u/zonination polled fellow redditors with a similar questionnaire, asking them to assign numerical probabilities to different words, and mapped the results.

When you ask someone how likely they are to purchase your product and they answer "unlikely", it could mean a less-than-5% chance, or a greater-than-35% chance. For someone else, "probably" could mean less than even odds.

If you are asking about purchase intent in a survey, be careful how you present answer options, since the probability implied in their order could conflict with what people usually understand each word to mean.  If "probably", on average, means a higher probability than "likely", it could be confusing for respondents to see the options in this order:

  • Definitely
  • Likely
  • Probably
  • About even
  • ...


Sherman Kent, the original experiment's author, talks about what sparked his interest in how intelligence professionals communicate different probabilities:

A few days after the estimate [of Soviet actions in Yugoslavia] appeared, I was in informal conversation with the Policy Planning Staff's chairman. We spoke of Yugoslavia and the estimate. Suddenly he said, "By the way, what did you people mean by the expression `serious possibility'? What kind of odds did you have in mind?" I told him that my personal estimate was on the dark side, namely, that the odds were around 65 to 35 in favor of an attack. He was somewhat jolted by this; he and his colleagues had read "serious possibility" to mean odds very considerably lower.

Can You Spot Subliminal Advertising?

We attempted to reconstruct a famous 1950s experiment with subliminal advertising by inserting very brief flashes of certain words in this video clip. Can you see what the words say? (The full report from the experiment is coming soon.)


Hello, World!

Skating away from the puck.

Skating away from the puck.

Every Kiss Begins with Kay, and every blog begins with "Hello, World!"  Nobody ever reads it (present company excluded, obviously), but it feels weird to just start jamming without tipping your hat first.  

So: hello, world!

Between 2004 and 2011, I wrote the Advertising Lab  blog about technology and the future of the industry. I spotted a few things right: I wrote about the iPhone and the dangers of showrooming back in 2008, for example.  Over time, the blog grew to 50,000 subscribers. 

Eventually, I've come to realize that the most interesting thing about technology are people and everything that makes them human. The future has lost its appeal, too. It began to feel as if talking about tomorrow was a way to avoid having to deal with today.  If everyone skates to where the puck is going, who will be left minding the puck now?  

Advertising Lab came to a stop, and I spent the next few years getting an insights department off the ground and doing experiments

But I have always wanted to come back. Blogging is contemplative. In a way, it is more social than, say, Twitter; I still feel a sense of connection to people I internet-met a decade ago on their blogs and mine. 

Plus, blogging is like vinyl — it just sounds better.