A Picture, actually a Symbol, is Worth a Thousand Words

“Digital Payment Company Adapts to a Digital Environment in a Move to Become a Symbol Brand,” stated the Mastercard press release.

I stumbled across this news not long after it was released. It didn’t surprise me. After all, so many companies are dropping portions of their logos nowadays that it appears to be the latest trend for 2019. What did catch my eye were two words I hadn’t seen before: symbol brand.

It makes sense. There are plenty of companies that are easily recognizable for a single image or icon. Generally, the companies that first come to mind are Apple or Nike as two giants known for their iconic logos. Others have picked up on this trend, such as the former Weight Watchers, which has rebranded to the simple WW.  

What really struck me was what these two words meant for where the world is heading. With the rise of technology, and the rewiring of our brains to expect instant gratification thanks to our speedy internet connections, the human attention span is far shorter than it perhaps has ever been.

If this is the case, then one could argue that having a long, wordy logo will eventually deter customers, not engage them. We lead a fast, busy lifestyle that demands we split our attention spans across five, six, seven different tasks all simultaneously. If this is the world we’ve created, then people only have a brief moment to see a logo, identify it, and then remember it later.

Symbols have become a quick means for a brand to create a moment with its customers. Nike’s swoosh is a call to action. Disney’s Mickey Mouse ears triggers childhood memories. All of these are moments a brand creates through its design, which is later solidified through customers engaging with the products and services offered. Once a brand has a moment that is locked in a customer’s mind, it becomes harder to forget, and therefore is logged away until something triggers it, resulting in the return of a customer.

It is the same process that makes you associate a pencil with school or books with a library. The only real difference is that the logo is what connects a customer to an experience, that then leads to a sale.

If society is becoming increasingly more visual, then now is the time for brands to adapt by ensuring visual identities, such as logos, say all the words that are no longer appearing alongside a symbol.

Devin Yasi