Research: 'Do They Like It?' Isn't The Question You Should Be Asking

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The purpose of name and logo testing is NOT to learn whether people LIKE a new name or logo. Although appeal is not irrelevant, the primary purpose of the research is to identify the attributes and brand identity that a name or logo communicates, and the extent to which they are consistent with the desired message of the institution.

Logo testing with members can be done in focus groups, online or in "intercept" programs typically in a retail environment. People are shown several designs and asked questions such as:

* What words best describe this logo?

* What does this design say about the organization it represents?

* Does it remind you of any other organization?

* Which logo is the most appealing?

For non-members intercepts and online testing will typically require an incentive. For more in-depth information or to keep a contemplated name or logo change confidential, focus groups provide qualitative results in a controlled setting. One caution: it's generally not advisable to test a new name or logo in a general member survey because most members will reject a proposed change from the familiar to the unfamiliar, and the negative political ramifications of such a test can be significant.

A southern California credit union tested a number of logos, its favorite being a multicolored one. However, focus group participants associated the rainbow colors with a gay/lesbian organization, which was not the institution's targeted image. In another case, a tech-based institution tested its favorite logo of three moving triangles.

Focus group participants noted, however, that the design suggested radioactivity, so it was rejected. Name research can be equally revealing. One credit union would have chosen a management-favored name if focus group participants had not associated it with "old, staid, inflexible, my grandfather's bank."

Although name and logo do not determine the brand, they do create an image and first impression. That's why it's essential for them to be consistent with the identity the credit union seeks. Advance research to understand messaging can be both insightful and very cost-effective.

Mike Anstead is Vice President of Sales and Service for Member Research. He can be reached at (310) 643-6753 or by email at manstead

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