What do Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and Disney all have in common? They’ve got the most popular logos in Britain, according to a survey by Avery UK.

We’re all familiar with Coke’s curvy white script, the Golden Arches, and Mickey Mouse’s ears. But what is it that makes them so popular? Is it simply down to good design, or are there other factors at play? And if so, what?

In this blog we’re going to take a look at what really makes a logo popular, beyond just its design. 

A ubiquitous product

According to Avery UK, the top five most popular logos in Britain belong to Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Disney (the Mickey Mouse silhouette), Cadbury, and Apple. 

What you’ll notice is that each of these brands is omnipresent in our culture. And that may not be a coincidence. In fact it’s very doubtful that anyone reading this has never heard of, or purchased products from, one of the above organisations. We see iPhones every day. There’s a McDonald’s seemingly around every corner (currently numbering 1,250 restaurants in the UK). And go into any supermarket or corner shop in England and you’ll see stacks upon stacks of Cadbury’s products.   

So what does all this mean? Well, though there are doubtless many factors at play, it seems more than coincidence that the most popular logos also happen to be the ones we’re exposed to on a daily basis. Which suggests that ubiquity and repetition may play a big part.

Consider how many microbreweries, craft stores, and independent bookshops there are with fantastic logos. But there isn’t a single small or medium business whose logo makes the top 40. It’s all, as you’d expect, the big names, whose logos and products we’re exposed to so regularly that they simply blend into the backdrops of our day-to-day lives. Ask the average person what their favourite logo is, chances are they’ll say McDonald’s simply because it’s the first one that pops into their head.

What this suggests is that brand exposure is likely a key ingredient in the popularity of a logo. In other words, the more often people see it, the more comfortable they’ll become with it, and the more they’ll grow to like it. 

Demographic

Expanding on the ubiquity of the product, we have the broadness of the demographic. McDonald’s, Disney, and even, to an extent, Apple, are not exclusive brands. They’re not reserved for, or aimed at, a wealthier segment of the population. They’re for everyone (at least that’s what their marketing suggests). 

There are many reasons why a brand’s demographic could be linked to the popularity of its logo. One of the simplest being, simply, that people tend to trust popular things. If everyone you know drinks Coca-Cola, then, in theory, you’re more likely to drink it yourself. Because it has the approval of the group. So perhaps the sheer size of each of these brand’s demographic presupposes consumer trust and satisfaction. They’re popular precisely because they’re so big.      

The more often we consume a product, the more likely we are to grow to enjoy it, and that, in turn, will leave us feeling more positive about the brand itself.

Function over beauty

What all this suggests, of course, is that a logo’s function is just as important as its aesthetic appeal.

And what we mean by function is, essentially, what the logo represents. It’s the brand behind the logo. The feelings, images, places, products, and smells that it conjures. It’s important to remember that a logo is the gateway to a brand. It encapsulates everything the brand stands for and, as a result, is a graphic manifestation of the company itself.

This means that the logo and the brand exist symbiotically. They feed and represent each other. So, bad brand = unpopular logo. This would go a long way in explaining why all of the most popular logos presented by Avery UK belong to some of the most popular brands.   

The take-aways

All said and done, it seems to be that when it comes to logos there’s certainly more to consider than just the design itself (though that is, obviously, a hugely important factor). And with that in mind, here are some of the other key components that go into making a popular and successful logo:

– Exposure. 

– Accessibility and ubiquity of product/service.

– Popularity of the product/service itself.

– Public perception of the overall brand.

Perhaps the real conclusion to draw here is that the actual design of a logo, though incredibly important, is in fact only a single element in the matrix of what what makes that logo popular. In the end it comes down to a variety of factors, which combine to make a single engine that drives a brand forward and into the public’s eye and favour.

For more on logos, see our post on The Three Principles Of Great Logo Design