The 15 Traits of Memorable Logos

Courtesy of car logos that are easy to draw from memory


Tealfeed Guest Blog

3 years ago | 8 min read

Whether you are a driver or a pedestrian, doing the school run or drooling over your dream motor, it is fair to say that most of the population is surrounded by cars and adverts for cars most days of their lives.

Manufacturers spend a lot of time and money creating brand identities that are intended to be easily recognized and remembered, but does all the exposure to car logos mean people can remember what they look like?

Van Monster, the largest van retailer in the UK, wanted to find out how well people remember famous car logos.

The company gathered 100 people (54 women and 46 men) of varying ages and told them only that they would be asked to draw ten items.

As the experiment began, participants were sat in separate booths and given the same sets of felt-tip pens, along with ten pieces of paper with the name of each car make on the top.

They were given an unlimited amount of time to draw all ten logos — Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Ford, Peugeot, Renault, Toyota, Vauxhall, and Volkswagen.

Here are some of the drawings and results.

Alfa Romeo

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Alfa Romeo has one of the most ancient and historical emblems among all car brands in the world. It is a very complex logo with many parts and drawing it from memory proved a difficult task.

The badge has two main features:

  • On the left, the red cross on a white field is the symbol of Milan, the hometown of Alfa Romeo.
  • On the right, a snake, the symbol of one of the most important families in the history of Milan (and Italy), the Visconti family — the family that ruled Milan.

Of the 100 drawings:

  • 74% forgot the flag.
  • 63% forgot the snake.
  • 13% didn’t include red, blue, or green at all.


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Audi has arguably the simplest badge, four interlocking rings symbolized the merger of four automobile manufacturers based in the German state of Saxony: Audi, DKW, Horch, and Wanderer became Auto Union AG in 1932.

Although Audi has one of the easiest logo designs, 5% of people directly mistook the logo for the Olympic rings — perhaps unsurprisingly as the International Olympic Committee attempted to sue Audi in the international trademark court in 1995.

  • 14% drew the wrong number of rings.
  • 5% drew a design similar to the Olympic logo.
  • 7% drew the logo completely wrong.


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In the early days, the logo and its meaning were by no means as present to a broad public as they are today, however, the simplistic design of the BMW badge combined with the unchanged colors made it easier for participants to recall the details of this well-known logo.

The original logo was designed in 1917 and incorporated both the Rapp Motorenwerke logo (from which the BMW company grew) and the colors.

This can also be seen in the first BMW logo from October 1917, which continued Rapp’s tradition of having a black ring around the company logo bearing the company name. of the Bavarian flag.

The iconic blue and white colors were remembered by 92% of participants, with 93% of people also correctly drawing the circular shape of the badge.

Whilst clearly a memorable logo, 41% of people couldn’t recall what format the blue and white colors were in, with a variety of shapes drawn.


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While most people are unlikely to see a Ferrari on their daily commute, the aspirational brand is adored by millions, so much so the famous logo can be spotted everywhere from clothing and watches to backpacks and pencil cases.

Inspired by Countess Paulina, who claimed it would bring him luck, Enzo Ferrari painted a horse on his racing car. This was followed by a yellow background, the color of his city of birth, and the Italian flag colors, red, green, and white.

While the badge’s legendary canary yellow background and iconic prancing stallion were remembered by most, less significant details were lost, with less than half of the drawings containing the Ferrari wordmark and only 15% remembering the colors of the Italian flag.

Interestingly, twice as many people opted to draw the badge’s shape as a shield over rectangular, a variation often used above the wheel arch of the Italian supercars.

  • 88% included yellow in their drawing.
  • 82% attempted to draw the horse.
  • 15% remembered the stripes.
  • 49% drew the name on the logo.


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The Ford logo has barely changed in its 117-year history, with the recognizable italic font a fixture since 1907, and the iconic royal blue appearing 20 years later.

While most participants (89%) included the distinctive color palette, only 58% of people attempted to draw the italic font for the brand name.

Overall the Ford branding is seemingly ingrained in most minds, with only 10% failing to remember any element at all.

  • 90% drew the oval shape.
  • 89% included the color blue.
  • 58% attempted an italic font in their drawing.


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The Peugeot brand is summarized in one animal, a lion. The lion trademark was registered in 1858 by Emile Peugeot and when there have been many variations over the years, the lion has remained the sole feature of the brand logo.

While seemingly iconic, one in five people didn’t attempt to draw any kind of animal at all. Those who did drew everything from a bird, winged horses, a whale, and what looks to be a dead insect!

A staggering 30% of participants drew the logo completely wrong and of the 52 people who did draw a lion-like creature, 25 of them drew it facing the wrong direction.


Once Van Monster had all the completed drawings, the organization had them analyzed by a group of five experts, working in design, marketing, and/or data analysis.

The professionals graded each picture on criteria individual to the car badge, which generally consisted of looking at shapes, colors, detailing, writing, and fonts.

This grading was then used to place the pictures onto a grid in order of accuracy.

The research revealed many memory mishaps, but also demonstrated which motoring legacies are seemingly ingrained in our memories forever.

Despite some of these badges remaining consistent over the decades, the patterns and pictures featured are too much for many minds to recall.

Overall only 12% of the drawings were near perfect, and 26% were good but not perfect.

Generally, as expected, the simpler the logo, the more accurately participants were able to recall and draw it.

According to Charlie Bell, creative director at Whitespace, one of Scotland’s leading creative agencies:

“We are seeing traditional car brands refining their look to be more in line with the current trend of flat vector graphics. Gone are the shiny chrome effects in logos for many brands. Volkswagen, Toyota, Lotus, Hyundai, Audi, and Mini are just a handful of automotive brands opting for a more minimal approach. And it is telling that the logos people could recall best where the simplest yet most striking.”

How to Design a Catchy Brand — Tips From Brand Experts

The reason underlying the use of a logo is to be recognized from equivalent institutions and organizations by people through this logo.

For this reason, brands that have catchy logos in mind will always be a couple of steps ahead.

Here are 15 tips from brand experts to design a catchy logo:

  1. Prioritize simplicity over all else. “Some of the smartest businesses these days are those with the simplest solution to solving a problem, and this philosophy carries through to the branding. Prioritize simplicity and not over-design.” — Leif Abraham, CEO & Co-Founder, AND CO
  2. Avoid an intricate design. “If I had to choose just one logo design tip, I’d advise choosing a design that isn’t too intricate. Take the lead from the big retailers: they tend to go for block-letter logos with simple colors, which look great at any size and are memorable.”Liz Jammal, Owner, Vivid Marketing
  3. Align your logo to your brand promise. “The logo should be improved to address the specific combination of promise, credibility, and relevance.” — Filiberto Amati, Partner, Amati & Associates
  4. Be authentic. “You are the brand, you are the source of the authenticity, and the logo’s job is to be a vessel for delivering those qualities to your public.” — David Langton, President, Langton Creative Group
  5. Limit creative flourishes. “Understand that the simplest logos are often the best logos. Subtract unnecessary elements until the logo represents the brand in its most basic form. And appreciate the fact that the simpler the logo design is, the more memorable it will be.” — Paul Bies, President, Mystique Brand Communications
  6. Design for the long term. “A logo should be designed with longevity and future use in mind.” — Jennifer Andos, Creative Director, Paperfish Creative
  7. Analyze your competition. “The biggest question I ask myself when critiquing logos is ‘What’s the competition doing? Use your competitors’ decisions as a set of checks and balances to help you make better decisions.” — Kenneth Burke, Marketing Director, Text Request
  8. Iterate. “Keep creating, changing, and tweaking until you have it right — you’ll know it when you see it.” — Rob Cohen, Chief Strategy Officer, Penguin Strategies
  9. Focus on your target audience. “Focus on who you’re attracting, not your own personal style or taste. Take yourself out of the design.”Kyle Golding, CEO & Chief Strategic Idealist, The Golding Group
  10. Think about different applications. “Just because a logo looks great on your website doesn’t mean that it will look good on your business cards, letterhead, wearables, and promotional products. Be sure that your new logo will work in all situations.”Anne Kleinman, President, Ad Infinitum
  11. Ensure your logo works on a small scale. “Da Vinci himself once said, ‘simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.’ Quite true. The very best logos are clean, simple, yet powerful and recognizable even on a tiny scale.”Andrea D. Smith, Senior Brand Director, The ADS Agency
  12. Stand out with color. “Color is one of the most identifiable components of a visual identity, so if no competitors are using a specific color that’s relevant to your brand, it’s a color you can own as a business, which immediately allows you to stand out from the crowd with little effort.” — Ian Paget(Logo Geek), Founder, Logo Geek
  13. Avoid generic typefaces. “If I had to provide a single most important tip in designing a logo, it would be to avoid common typefaces.” — Erik Pitzer, Graphic Designer, Illumine8 Marketing & PR
  14. Get a second opinion. “When you’re in the process of creating a logo, it’s possible that you may miss some important details. Always have a second pair of eyes to identify things that you might have overlooked.” — Ivan Spasojevic, Marketer, Ucraft
  15. Make it memorable. “You have to create a story from the beginning that you can scale, and that your first few clients will still remember for what it represents and conveys.” — Andres Tovar, Chief Commercial Officer, Noetic Marketer
This article was originally published by Esat Artuğ on medium.


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