The Effects of Logos

News Brief by Rebecca Moragne

             While logos are well used, according to Alison Ledgerwood, a social psychologist at the University of California Davis, no one has ever explicitly asked, “what do symbols do for a group?” (University of California - Davis, 2016). To test this question Ledgerwood and Shannon Callahan, another social psychologist at the University of California Davis, ran online experiments where participants ranked various groups on unity, organization, friendliness, and intimidation. The research concluded that while more similar looking groups were perceived as more unified, those diverse with a symbol were also perceived as unified. Similarity was measured based on visual characteristics such as a group of similar colored cartoon aliens. However, the unity in groups with a logo came at a cost as they were also ranked as more intimidating. These results suggest that there is a risk for symbols to polarize non-members through intimidations but additionally, a benefit of perceived unity. In a following study, participants chose to include a logo based on their desired result. Participants chose to include a logo when they desired group unity and intimidation and to not include one when carrying out collaborative acts such as bringing food to others. Therefore, before a group creates a logo they should contemplate their priorities between desiring unity and intimidation versus lack of unity and friendliness. Ledgerwood stated, “if they want to seem very competent and coordinated, like they get things done, they might want to have a logo. But if their goal is to seem inclusive and cooperative and open to outsiders, a logo might backfire.” (University of California - Davis, 2016).


University of California - Davis. (2016, April 16). Logos make a group seem real. ScienceDaily.         Retrieved April 22, 2016 from