A crowded company logo
Published in European Sign Magazine, no 2, 1990
Last changes December 2008
Dr. Leonard Verhoef,
applied cognitive psychologist.
For designing complex things.
Not a designer.
After studying educational psychology and applied experimental psychology Dr. Leonard Verhoef did research on human thinking. He applied scientific cognitive psychological knowledge in designs for car drivers, skippers, and high speed train drivers. His designs for public transport passengers and people trying to escape a disaster, reduce reading time, travel time and the number of casualties substantially. This also applies for controlers (train, traffic, process) in normal practice, disturbed situations and when disaster strikes.
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Graphics are in vogue
|The presentation of information by means of pictures is in vogue. In the computer world, icons and graphics are seen more and more. Computer technology makes it easier to use pictograms on signposts and advertising boards. In order to improve the recognizability of a firm, logos, also a kind of picture, are used as much as possible.||From a psychological point of view pictorial presentations do have advantages. A logo is more attractive and conspicuous than the name of a firm in some standard character. In addition a logo can project an image which makes the customers believe that the company is modern, fast, efficient, etc. This picture shows the logo of an insurance company. A very conspicuous logo. Why is it?||
Many presentation codes
|On the visual level this logo has three colours, three character types and three geometrical forms (the oblique blue square, the black rectangular background of the text verzekeringen [insurances] and finally the squares in the underlying lattice work). Almost all visual possibilities are there. The only one which is missing, is blinking. However, a blinking logo is not practical when it has to be used on paper envelopes and in letter-headings.||On the verbal level there are two words. One of them insurances is rather long. The number of words in the logo could be reduced by omitting the explanation insurances, but then any possible potential for bringing in customers would be lost. Not everybody knows that Aegon is an insurance company. A name that covers the content would reduce the number of words as well. However, Insurances as a name for such a company is quite clear but quite dull as well. Further more only one company could use such a name.|
Changes in presentation code within the logo
|Within the word Aegon colour changes from white to black. The characters of the word Aegon are mostly black whereas the characters of the word insurances are white. The backgrounds used are blue, black and a white latticework. There is not only a background within the logo. The logo itself has a background too.||For a designer the background of his design is mostly a rather homogeneous white drawing table. Very often a designer does not know what will form the background of his design. In this case the designer is very unfortunate. The crowded, latticed logo with several fields is mounted on a wall which itself is crowded, latticed with several fields because of windows and white lines. As a result the logo is lost against the wall. It is not clear what is a part of the logo and what is a part of the wall.|
|When colour is used the effects of making a black and white photocopy are not usually anticipated. With this logo there are no problems when making a copy, although the white lattice will disappear.||An unforeseeable problem with this logo emerged when it was used on the front of a train. This logo, and especially the blue square, visually changed the head of the train so much that railway men alleged that they did not notice the Aegon train as quickly as a normal entirely yellow painted train front. This was a problem, as these men work on tracks that are still being used by trains.|
Psychology and design
|The remarks mentioned so far were made from a psychological point of view. They might be interpreted as negative. Of course, negative remarks are easier to write and to read than positive ones. For Aegon it does not matter because psychologists are not a substantial part of their market. From a designer’s point of view this logo can be appreciated. This design is, indeed, different from other logos. Deviation from common practice and norms is a standard way to be creative. However, the logo is not made for psychologists nor for designers. What might be the customer’s opinion? The answer is quite simple. Making a choice between the products of insurance companies is made too difficult anyway. Probably psychological and design criteria used in the company logo do not make any difference.|
|More applied psychology for public and transport information|
|More applied psychology for other domains:||
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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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3581 PB Utrecht
Chamber of commerce number: 39057871, Utrecht.