How to judge if a logo project is what we aimed for? And how not to do it? Learn one of the most common cognitive errors.

In the process of building a visual identity of the brand (whether a new one or refreshing the existing one), there is the moment to evaluate the proposed solutions. "What does it remind me?" – you can ask yourself. If you're not sure, you can ask that to someone else. This innocent question treated too literally can mislead you totally.

Why is it not worth following the path of associations?

1. Connotations are very individual

Everyone has different experiences, values, and emotions that have accumulated through whole life so far. They can partially influence how specific shapes, colors or forms affect us. On the basis of specific memories, a given symbol can give rise to specific emotions connected with a specific event, a person or something completely different.

Therefore, the evaluation of the logo coming from the question "What does it remind you?" is completely out of place because it diametrically reduces the role of the logo to childish play.

Look at the example of the Nike logo:

"What does it remind you?" Individuals would probably respond:

– a fish hook
– a smoking pipe
– a sickle
– a hockey stick

Does any of these observations have any meaning in the context of the assessment of whether the Nike symbol fulfills its image-related purpose?

Absolutely not. The logo is not only about being associated with a given object but above all, it would give back certain emotions and character (the Nike symbolic connected to dynamics, speed, activity – simply sport). And these emotions are somewhere between the logo itself and its recipient, stimulated during the process of perception, that is, the way we interpret what we see.

Assigning individual connections to the logo is a step too far.

Of course, if subsequent people, one by one, see in it the same inappropriate symbol, which should not appear there – then there is a real problem (examples can be seen, for example, on this webiste). 

2. Connotations can be attributed to everything

This described type of logo fails is one thing, while assigning "by force" all connotations that come to mind is the other. It is said that each logo can be easily converted to resemble genitals. Well, the combination of malice with a peculiarly directed imagination will certainly not help in the process of creating the visual identity of a brand.

We like to assign connotations. In particular, when we see an abstract symbol that does not represent anything specific, it is rather a form reflecting a character and style (just like the mentioned Nike logo). We can always make some jokes (especially, because that can be very helpful in disseminating information about changing the logo of a brand).

However, the insistent adding of silly meanings to new symbols represents the level of a little boy drawing the mustache of a lady in a newspaper and it testifies more about their authors than about a new logo. But anyway, that's the extreme.

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The Rorschach test is a psychological test consisting in showing the recipient several pictures with abstract spots. The patient task is to assign associations that come to his mind.

This is the best proof that looking for the recipient's associations with a given graphic art, we can learn something about it and not about the graphics itself. The Rorschach test is, after all, carried out in order to recognize personality traits and find possible psychological disorders of the patient.

Trying to assess whether the designed logo will fulfill its task, let's not try to force from the person's associations from her head, because they will tell us first of all about this person, not about the project that is in front of the eyes.

3. It's not about what you see, but what it is

As I mentioned the logo representing the brand is supposed to carry with it emotional charge first. It is a graphic interpretation of features and values.

Sure, they are sometimes represented around the symbol of a real object, but it all depends on how the object is presented. It can take a certain shape, color? Maybe it was merged with another symbol or shape? If so, in what way?

This way of presenting this subject is outlined by emotions and adjectives that can be attributed to such a brand – only by looking at their logo. This is the essence of visual identification design. The ability to "translate" features and strategies into graphic form.

How to evaluate whether the logo "works"?

So how do you approach the logo design analysis to be able to assess whether it will affect the recipient as intended? The key is to ask the right questions:

The most important:

  • How is it like? What adjectives can you assign to what you see?
  • Is what you see more positive or negative?
  • What terms would you use to describe what you see?
  • Does what you see reflect the nature of what it represents?
  • How does it compare with the competition in the industry? Does it stand out in a positive way?

Technical stuff:

  • Is what you see is easy to read (from a distance, close up)?
  • Does it look good where it will be placed (on the website, business card, product itself, etc.)


There are also a number of other questions equally important, but lying on the technical side of the logo, for which the designer is responsible. However, I focus here on issues related to the basic tasks that the logo should meet.

In the end, the most essential thing. During asking these questions focus primarily on the target group. If you do not belong to it, try to empathize with the role of a person from it. These people are potential customers and should understand what your brand has to offer. Logo and visual identification are not for you, but for your target group.


Łukasz Ociepka

Brand Identity Designer. I'm not designing pretty graphics. I help your business to evolve because of understanding the customers. I help you to talk to them in their language. I will take care of attracting them and reaching their trust. 10 years of experience and over 30 created brands so far allow me to consult strategy & ideas for brand communication. And I love to do it.


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