Several experiments show that our minds and visual memory are not as reliable as we think: when prompted to draw famous brand logos, people often fail to create an accurate drawing.
A study by UCLA published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology asked 85 students to draw the Apple logo. Just one of them did it right. I particularly like the bottom right one that looks like a deformed heart, or lung. Apple must be really vital to this person. More seriously, one might wonder how hard it is to draw such a simple and ubiquitous logo. Surely, drawing an apple does not require extraordinary artistic skills, right?
Another experiment by Adweeks on Times Square somewhat reinforces this idea that logo drawing is not that easy, with some less-than-perfect drawings – and an hilarious French dude – in this video.
Why then is it so hard to draw a logo? The UCLA study found out that our minds are in fact so saturated with information that we fall into some form of “attention to detail amnesia”: we don’t feel that we NEED to remember the logo, hence we stop noticing it and its details to unconsciously free up mental space. You might call it selective memory.
“Our minds are so saturated with information that we tend to forget logo details”
What brands can learn from this study is that their logo might be as simple and recognisable as possible, it does not mean that people can recall it to the point of reproducing it. We can now understand why companies start suing others about vaguely similar logos, or use of the same colours.
If details are not going to make a real difference, your logo needs to be utterly unique and easy to remember.