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When adults think about marketing and advertising, they think of banner ads, television and radio commercials, pictures in magazines and billboards. They seldom think of the many brand markers and logos that are everywhere in society. Nearly every product one sees, buys, or uses has a logo attached to it. These logos are not just pretty markers for the product, but carefully designed marks to allow someone to know the company and product subconsciously.
We are exposed to marketing nearly every second of the day, no matter where we are. At home, all of our appliances have logos on them. We have markers for brands in our cabinets, our refrigerators and bathrooms. We wear clothing that has brand logos on them, helping to market the product and the company. Our computers have brand logos and stickers on them, subtly helping us form a connection in our mind to a particular product.
Few people realize that companies spend more money on their brand marker than on their advertising campaigns. A company will spend large sums to create a unique and memorable logo, the brand icon. Most lawsuits filed between companies aren’t for espionage or stolen ideas for products, but for logos appearing too similar. Apple recently filed a lawsuit against a German café for using a similar logo.
Companies know that symbols work for people of all nationalities, languages and cultures. An iconic logo can be identified quickly and associated with a product. Most Americans can quickly identify logos such as Nike’s checkmark, Apple’s bitten apple logo or McDonald’s golden arches. People from other countries can also identify these products from the logo, even if they cannot think of the name. This subliminal advertising creates brand loyalty from a picture.
Costs of Advertising
Companies spend thousands of dollars designing logos for their products. They spend hundreds of dollars in copywriting and trademarking their logos. Millions of dollars are spent per year promoting the icon through print and video advertisements. For every dollar spent in design, marketing, and trademarking a logo, a company spends two dollars protecting that logo.
The main culprits of trademark infringement are knockoffs and forgeries. Similar-looking logos are used to trick consumers into purchasing inferior products. These products, carrying the similar sounding name or brand identifier, create a negative image of the company. Nike has won lawsuits in China against counterfeiters for damage to their brand identity through inferior quality products. Apple is fighting similar fights in China and Korea over fake iPad products.
Science Behind Symbols
As with anything, humans are visual creatures. We can recall visual sites from memory more easily than words or sounds. This visualization process becomes useful for promoting a product. The more a person is exposed to a product, the more familiar the logo attached becomes. This creates a lasting impression of the product in the back of the minds of consumers.
This type of visual marketing works best with children and younger shoppers. While at a heightened state of visual development, the images associated with certain items are believed to create customers later in life. It’s marketing to the next generation without directly targeting the child. Companies spend billions of dollars a year in studies and marketing to younger shoppers and future customers.
Children who cannot yet speak or read can become familiar with the symbols associated with the product. The effect is similar to flash cards, with pictures of objects and the words associated with the picture. A child can see a ball and recognize it as a ball. The same child may associate a laptop computer with Apple, or a hamburger with McDonalds. These associations last a lifetime in the child’s brain.
Companies know that their brand identification is valuable. They invest large sums of money in marketing, development and protection of these symbols. The use of psychologists in testing logo designs has added to the power these brand markers hold for the company. Apple, Nike, McDonalds and many others have invested heavily in lawsuits protecting their brand identity.
The human mind processes the visual queues from pictures and stores them more easily than sounds. The use of logos and symbols helps to market to people around the globe and of all ages. The connections between a symbol and a product allow for companies to build customer loyalty throughout the generations. So long as their products remain high quality and reasonably priced, these companies know that their iconography will keep customers returning for years to come.
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