An ambiguous company logo
Psychological analysis of a company logo.
European Sign Magazine, 1990, no 2, pag 44-45.
Last changes in content December 2008
Dr. Leonard Verhoef,
applied cognitive psychologist.
For designing complex things.
Not a designer.
Leonard Verhoef, theoretical and practical background. From an experimental cognitive psychologist to a designer of simple and complex daily life systems in a technical future.
With click to: CV.
|The ocean-going yachtsman in the photograph is worried. He is worried about a bank. Does a sand bank pose a threat to him and his ship? Or is a commercial bank threatening him with foreclosure? The word 'bank' is ambiguous.||Besides words, figures can be ambiguous also. Take this figure on the automatically inflating life vest of this troubled yachtsman. It is a very ambiguous figure indeed. A small survey among friends produced no less than nine different opinions.|
2 The answers
|About half of them thought they perceived a drowning person who stands breast high in the water, calling for help with his arms stretched above his head. Another sees a girl with a skipping rope.||
One fifth has a totally different idea, immediately seeing a horseshoe shaped life buoy. Either spontaneously, or after a few more questions, most people see both the man and the buoy. This is not the end of this row of interpretations.|
3 More answers
|Such answers demonstrate several psychological phenomena.||The champion in ambiguous design is Escher. He made abigouty visible by showing the transition. Looking, for example, from left to right, one sees butterflies gradually change into lizards. Both, in psychological and aesthetic terms a magnificent solution. Fortunately, to the yachtsman it does not matter whether he thinks he has a drowning person or a sausage on his chest. If he does indeed run onto a sand bank, hopefully the technical designers of the automatically inflating life vest have done their work just as well as the graphics designer of the logo.|
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Leonard Verhoef, theoretical and practical background. From an experimental coginitive psychologist to a designer of simple and complex daily life systems in a technical future.
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