Let’s conduct an experiment. There are no right or wrong answers.
Below are five consumer brand logos, and I want you to just shout out the first word that comes to mind other than the name of the brand.
(Don’t worry if other people are around, they certainly won’t think you are weird.)
(Well, I guess that depends on what you shout.)
Got your words? Don’t forget them.
This is a common exercise to run with focus groups, or in training around brand identities.
The last few times I’ve done it, the majority of people have responded to each consumer logo with a noun. It might be the brand’s most prominent product, sphere of influence, or figurehead. McDonald’s gets “fries, burgers, fast food, toys, grease.” Apple gets “iPhone” but also “music” and “Steve Jobs”.
Still remember your words? Say them again. How many are nouns?
Not all brands get nouns every time. Brands spend significant time aligning itself with a particular adjective or phrase. In my session this week, the word cloud for Mercedes was almost entirely “luxury” or synonyms. No one has said “cars.”
(Also, brands in a crisis will get the word associated with their crisis, even if it’s not brand relevant. Right now Johnson and Johnson’s logo might elicit “cancer;” banks logos might get “occupy” or “1%.”)
Say your words again. How many of your words weren’t nouns?
I have discovered that I never, ever respond with nouns. It’s not like I’m trying to be contrary. Nouns never pop into my head. My words for the logos above were: healthy, unavoidable, wasteful, killer, and cohesive. In effect, my associations with brands are about perception, not products or people.
I suspect some crowds are more predisposed to give perception answers over the product answers. I’m sure there are studies to explain it.
For the moment, I’m only interested in you. What were your words?
Before you leave a comment, I have one final brand for you to shout out a word for: