How to test the effectiveness of your logo

Why test a logo and the effectiveness of your branding?

Like most businesses, you likely recognize the importance of branding for its ability — among other things — to attract customers, communicate your unique benefits and help your business stand out in a crowded marketplace. But branding can also be an expensive endeavor with uncertain results. To know if your investment is providing value, you may be hoping for a way to test a logo or measure the effectiveness of your branding.

What doesn’t work

Getting feedback on your branding—from your company name, to your logo, to your website or your messaging—is a good idea. Many mistakes can be avoided by finding someone with fresh eyes to review what you’re working on.

For most people, this means asking friends, family and colleagues, “Do you like this design?” But this approach can be unhelpful and ineffective for a few reasons.

  1. It’s best to ask your customers (or others who share the demographic or psychographic traits of your ideal customer).
  2. When you ask people what they like, it’s often more about favorite (or least favorite) colors or fonts and less about whether it is a good representation of your brand.
  3. Friends and family may not want to hurt your feelings, so they aren’t always completely honest.

What you should test

A successful brand visually reinforces the benefits of your product or service and attracts your ideal customers. You should begin any visual branding by getting clarity about what you want to represent.

For example, maybe you want your life coaching business to come across as inspirational. Or your new software to feel innovative. Or your therapy practice to feel caring.

Here are some better ways to get feedback on your branding to ensure it’s effectively communicating the message you want.

Test against your ideal

Let’s use the example of a life coach wanting to build a brand that feels inspirational and whose target is millennial women. This is how you could test a logo and get feedback on a web design or business card.

Show your designs, then ask:

  • Which of these designs feels more inspirational?
  • Which of these designs would inspire you to want to hire a life coach?
  • Who do you think this logo would appeal to?

Ask for feedback, but not a like/dislike vote

Let’s use the same example of an inspirational life coach hoping to attract millennial women. You can get much better feedback (beyond the like/dislike) by being more specific about the feedback you are looking for.

Try these questions:

  • How does each of these designs make you feel? Why? What elements make you say that?
  • What would you expect from a business with this design?
  • What type of clients is this business trying to attract?

Be open to feedback

You may be surprised just how off-base your branding is. As a new business owner you are entrenched in developing your product or service. It becomes your “baby” and can be hard to look at critically.

Also, it’s likely that you’ve been telling close family, friends or colleagues about your new business, so they have tons of background information about what you plan to offer. But your branding must attract people who know little or nothing about you. This is clearly more true with consumer products than professional services.  A consumer product needs to sit on a shelf and do the selling for you. A professional services company, on the other hand, is more likely built on personal networking.

By soliciting feedback from people you don’t know, you may uncover some biases that you overlooked. You may also be able to get more blunt, unfiltered feedback by speaking to new people.

Find some people who are not familiar with what you plan to launch, show them your branding and ask these types of questions:

  • What type of product or service do you think this company provides?
  • Does this company look professional to you?
  • What type of feeling does this logo express to you?
  • What would you expect from a business with this design?
  • What type of clients is this business trying to attract?

Two-step approach: Define then measure

All of the questions suggested above follow this two step approach:

  1. Define your vision for your business’ brand including who your ideal customer is and what type of benefits you want to reinforce with your brand.
  2. Test against that vision with questions that ask whether the design will attract your target customer and whether the design is a good visualization.

Following this approach is critical. Measuring the effectiveness of branding is challenging enough. If you don’t have the right benchmarks in place, it becomes nearly impossible.