Logos have long been used by groups to identify themselves but what do they do for groups exactly? Researchers from the University of California, Davis sought out to answer that question, discovering that logos create the impression unity, effectiveness and coordination within a group even the same is not true in reality.
In a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the researchers detailed the results of experiments carried out to assess the role of logos in groups. They had participants rate various groups (some imaginary, some real) on how friendly, threatening, competent, organized and unified they appeared.
Earlier research have pointed out that members who look similar are considered the most group-like and unified. However, groups with more diversity were also thought of as such, and more threatening, if they were represented by a symbol or logo.
To take stereotypes into consideration, the researchers had real-world groups rated based on the warmth and competence they are perceived to have. Eight were chosen out of 35 groups based on how varied the ratings for them were.
These eight groups (which include the disabled, immigrants, obese people, Native Americans, Jewish people, conservatives, blue-collar workers and atheists) were then further rated based on how friendly, skillful and unified they seemed. According to results, when groups use logos, they appear more competent and cohesive but less warm.
These findings can help groups, organizations, institutions and the like in deciding whether or not adopting a logo or symbol is in their best interest.
"It may depend on what their goals are," said Alison Ledgerwood, an associate professor from the University of California, Davis' Department of Psychology and one of the authors of the study.
If a group wants to look coordinated and competent, heightening the perceived notion that they can get things done, then they should get a logo. If a group wants to appear more open and inclusive to outsiders, then a logo might do more harm than good.
The researchers also warned about seeing groups as too unified as this raises risks of us-versus-them conflicts developing between separate entities.
Shannon Callahan also contributed to the study.
Photo: Mel Aclaro | Flickr