An ambiguous company logo

Psychological analysis of a company logo.

1 Ambiguity

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.
Logo on life vest
To top.

3 More answers

  • a smoked sausage
  • a bollard for berthing ships
  • the rank distinctives of a merchant a marine officer, as a seaman said.
  • a light bulb, according to someone who works in a lamp factory

  • a teat, claimed a highly pregnant yachtswoman
  • the lip with which you open a cola can, said a teetotaller.
  • To top.

    4 Psychology

    Such answers demonstrate several psychological phenomena.

  • People do not observe things in the way a camera does. People observe things in an interpretative manner.

  • For such interpretation one uses whatever is stored in one's memory and what has been keeping one's mind occupied lately. Consequently, a human being, in addition to his eyes, also uses his memory and intelligence for the interpretation of information received.
  • One can lead people in a certain direction by first showing them something else. When they are asked to read the text 'front' in black letters on the life vest, they concentrate on observing black characters. If one then asks them what the ambiguous figure does mean, the number of horseshoe shaped buoys and smoked sausages will grow.
  • 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.
    To top.

    More applied cognitive psychology for public design:

    Public infowayfinding signing

    Public infohistory futur train and public transport ticket vending machines

    Public infopublic transport space structure wayfinding signposting

    Public infodesign company logo icon pictogram

    Public infodesign company logo aegon icon pictogram

    Public infosignposting wayfinding signing arrows

    Public infopublic transport space structure wayfinding signposting

    Public infopublic transport space structure wayfinding signposting

    Public infowayfinding signposting signing

    Public info public transporttrain ticket vending machines

    Public info public transportNaming public transport lines for passengers

    Public info public transportpublic transport information on dynamic panels

    Public info public transport ovchipuser experience questionaire research

    Public info road trafficTom Tom infographics car navigation

    Public info road trafficother train accidents level crossings

    Public info road trafficNaming ring roads

    Public info road trafficcar park indicators

    Public info road trafficwrong way driving traffic signs

    Public info waterwaypictogram muster station assemply point IMO ferry signing

    Public infobewegwijzering borden icons pictogrammen verdwalen

    Public infocovid-19, corona

    Public infoleren verkeersborden toekomst rijexamen psychologie

    Public info public transportcompany identity en marketing versus noodzakelijke reizigers informatie

    Public info public transportmarketing company identity

    Public info public transport

    Public info public transportdelay announcement departure public transport dynamic indicator

    Public info public transportpublic transport dynamic indicators history future

    Public info public transportpublic transport dynamic indicators history future

    Public info public transporticonen pictogram beelden op verkoopautomaten

    Public info public transportopenbaar vervoer vertrektijden dynamische panelen vertraging verstoring

    Public info public transport ovchipov-chipkaart in-checken out-checken

    Public info public transport ovchipov-chipkaart check-out check-in

    Public info road traffictom tom navigatie auto planning

    Public info road trafficverkeer vrachtwagen tachograaf rijtijden

    Public info road trafficleren verkeersborden toekomst rijexamen psychologie

    Public info waterwayvaarweg verkeersborden aanleggen watersport

    Toekomst geldparkeren betalen elektronisch toekomst parkeerautomaat road traffic

    To top.

    More applied cognitive psychology for design, other than public


    x Invoer Morsesleutel Toekomst        multidimensionaal graphic   

    Public design

     NS treinkaart automaat b100 betalen openbaar vervoer NS treinkaart automaat b8060 betalen openbaar vervoer  IMO international maritime organisation muster station sign plattegrond IKEA water vaar verkeersbord maximaal hoogte water vaar verkeersbord maximaal drie dik aanleggen water vaar verkeersbord maximale doorvaart hoogte 3 meter experimenteel vertrektijden bord openbaar vervoer structuur openbare ruimten experimenteel vertrektijden bord openbaar vervoer atb etcs snelheidsbeheersing aandacht trekken water vaar verkeersbord verboden aanleggen water vaar verkeersbord maximale hoogte water vaar verkeersbord verboden 3 dik aanleggen met meer schepen trein vertrektijd perron NS CTA OV openbaar vervoer betalen ov-chipkaart toekomst grafische bestemmingen lijst metro ondergrondse lijn  structuur hoefijzer winkelcentrum 

    Icon/sign design

      3-d, perspectief,drie-dimensionaal verkeersbord toekomst parkeerverbod verkeersbord toekomst verboden inhalen verkeersbord toekomst maximum snelheid bepaalde 


    helderheid voor betrouwbaarheid hersenen limgisch systeem en cortex aandacht trekken en aandacht sturen gebruik van de kleuren rood oranje en geel gevoeligheid van het oog voor kleuren humunculus mensmetafoor een mens in de zaadcel 

    Toekomst volgens psychologie


    Leren rekenen

    leren rekenen basisschool MAB rekenblokken toekomst onderwijs leren lezen leren rekenen supermarkt leren rekenen basisschool tellen op de vingers aftellen leren rekenen vleksom puntsom rekenonderwijs basisschool tientallig stelsel tellen op de vingers rekenonderwijs basisschool computer diagnostiek remedial teaching graphics for quantitative data next generation 

    Hogesnelheidstrein (ERMTS)

      ERMTS hoge snelheidstrein hsl ATB experimenteel interface voor machinist ERMTS high speed train control driver mmi ERMTS hoge snelheidstrein hsl ATB experimenteel interface voor achinist ERMTS hoge snelheidstrein hsl ATB experimenteel interface voor achinist 

    Wetenschappelijke verantwoording


    To top.

    Search in


    cognitive psychology,  interface design, mmi, usability, web page design

    +31 (653) 739 750
    Parkstraat 19
    3581 PB Utrecht
    Chamber of commerce number: 39057871, Utrecht.
    To top.