Does Your Logo Design Imply How Good a Corporate Citizen You Are?
By Scott Cooney
Sunday, 11th September 2011
A friend once remarked that she didn't care for the Lord of the Rings movies because all the bad people were ugly and all the good were good-looking (if a little short).

A recent study found that elements of logo design had a similar influence on people's thinking about a company's environmental and social responsibility reputation...what does your logo say about your CSR?

The study, conducted by Niels van Quaquebeke and Steffen Giessner of the Rotterdam School of Management, found that logo design affected the viewer's perception of how ethical the company. Showing 100 logos of large companies to study participants, Quaquebeke and Giessner asked one group to rate attractiveness and symmetry, among other attributes of the logos. A separate group was asked to judge whether they thought the companies were ethical or not.

The most intriguing finding was that logos that ranked highly in symmetry were perceived higher in terms of socially and ethically responsible behavior.  Similarly, people rate the beauty of others more highly when their facial features were symmetrical. Something about symmetry implies trust, perhaps?

When considering your own brand and logo design, you might want to incorporate these findings, or at least ask your focus group to keep reputation in mind when evaluating potential designs.

Our company, GreenBusinessOwner.com, recently revamped our logo with a professional designer and ended up with a fun concept that implied all those elements we were looking to communicate: growth, organic, professional, transparent, and welcoming. Or so we thought.

After reading of this research, I asked our Facebook group about our new logo and website design, and of all the comments given about the website, tagline, etc., we did not get one response to the logo. Could it be that we've fallen victim to an asymmetrical logo trap? Will we now be viewed as less trustworthy?

Scott Cooney
Scott is the principal of GreenBusinessOwner.com, advising entrepreneurs on executive strategy and implementation of sustainable principles as a driver of business success. Scott is an author, professional public speaker, sustainable strategy advisor and serial eco-entrepreneur who has started, grown and sold several green businesses.

Scott's book, Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), has been hailed by green business professionals, including Horst Rechelbacher (founder of Aveda), as a great starting point for aspiring eco-entrepreneurs to understand the wealth of opportunities available in the green economy for entrepreneurs, no matter what level of formal education or startup capital they have. 

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