Complete, simpler, or simplest? Responsive logos and their effects on consumers’ reactions to brand logos.

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Aimed at making brands recognisable to consumers and at triggering positive responses in them, logos can increase brand loyalty, product consumption or evaluations, key factors to brand performance. Previous literature on logos has focused on logo design and elements, or logo processing but has taken logo changes as independent logo versions. Responsive logos constitute one logo that adapts to screen size configuring different compositions of one logo rather than changes of it. In a 3 (logo completeness: complete vs. simpler vs. simplest) by 2 (nationality) between-subjects experiment, 138 Dutch and 129 Portuguese consumers were exposed to three different logos from three international brands. Processing fluency, processing time, attitude towards the logo, logo recognition and Tolerance of Ambiguity (ToA) were measured. Dutch participants were found to have significantly higher ToA than Portuguese participants, a finding discussed in parallel to Hofstede’s Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI). Dutch participants showed more negative attitude towards the logo which was explained for 15% by their nationality, regardless of logo version. Simplest logos had a strong detrimental effect on processing fluency and were the least helpful logo variant to identify brands. The trend of logo simplicity as a strategy to communicate across emerging digital platforms is discussed in contrast with the potential for logo oversimplification. Focusing on ToA, the current research therefore adds to the growing body of cross-cultural research which overall reasons that ambiguity should be avoided in brand logos and across all corporate marketing communications.
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