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How Well Do Americans Recognize Top Brands?

October 22, 2018

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How recognizable are America’s top brands?

With the consumer space becoming increasingly crowded and the online sales world continuing to eclipse brick and mortar, brands are consistently fighting to be noticed. As customers move to the world of online shopping and brand loyalty, branding and identity are vital to business success in the digital age.

To see if brands are succeeding in this endeavor, we polled 6,000 Americans about how well they can recognize some of the largest brands in the United States. To get a true measure on how well Americans recognize brands, we altered six logos of companies in the technology and retail space with an eye toward changing font, color and design.

Click on the jump links below to learn more about the individual results, or jump to our demographic findings.

Marshalls | Ross | Costco | Target | Apple | Google

Marshalls

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Much has been made in recent years about the struggle traditional retail and department stores face in the digital age, as shoppers move online and away from the traditional purchasing journey. In 2018 more than 3,800 stores are slated to close, with department stores taking some of the largest hits.

Despite store closures in the industry, discount stores like T.J.Maxx and Marshalls continue to post strong sales. In fact, TJX Companies, the owner of T.J.Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods, announced plans to grow their number of stores by 50 percent, from 3,700 stores to 5,600, less than two years ago.

Their expansion may be working; 61 percent of Americans were able to correctly select the Marshalls logo. The most common mistake among respondents was selecting a logo that had been altered with a thinner font; 23 percent of Americans chose that altered logo to be correct. Americans were more sure of the actual font type; only a combined 15 percent chose logos that had been altered with an incorrect font.

Ross

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The ability of consumers to recognize the Marshalls logo contrasts starkly with the percentage of Americans who were able to pick out the correct logo for Ross Stores, a TJX competitor.

Only 28 percent of Americans were able to pick out the official Ross logo correctly. There was a small percentage of variation between the incorrect logos chosen, demonstrating that consumers don’t have a solid handle on the components that make up the Ross logo. Two logos, one that had been altered with an incorrect font and a color change and one that had been altered to fill the logo’s letter breaks, were chosen at a rate of 26 percent each.

Costco

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Despite being a large brick and mortar store with a limited online presence, superstore Costco was the well-recognized among more than half of Americans, with 54 percent choosing the correct Costco logo.

Surprisingly, 21 percent of respondents chose the Costco logo that had been altered with a red and blue color swap. In the history of the Costco logo, the company’s name has always appeared in red.

Target

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Only half of Americans were able Target’s logo, despite the company being valued as the second largest retailer in the United States. One in three Americans voted for an incorrect logo that had been modified with a different, lighter red font.

Americans were more confident on the number of rings in the Target logo; only a combined 16 percent of respondents chose logos that had been altered to include two rings rather than one.

Apple

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Despite being one of America’s most-loved brands and the first company in the world to be worth over $1 trillion, 44 percent of respondents could not correctly recognize the Apple logo.

The most often-chosen altered variation of the Apple logo featured the leaf in a swapped position; 27 percent of respondents incorrectly chose this to be the official Apple logo. Respondents were more confident about the direction of the logo, with only a combined 17 percent of respondents choosing the logos with the bite direction switched.

Google

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Google is currently the most popular website in the United States; globally, the site processes over 40,000 search queries every second, which averages to 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year. This could be why Americans found it the easiest to identify the Google logo, with 69 percent of respondents selecting the official logo as the correct choice.

Respondents seemed fairly certain on the blue color of Google’s “G,” with a combined 80 percent of respondents choosing logos with this color scheme. The Google logo has included a blue “G” since October 1998.

Twelve percent of respondents chose a logo that had been altered with a red and blue color swap, making the “G” red. A red “G” was part of Google’s initial logo, which was in effect from September 1997 to September 1998. Only 8 percent of respondents chose a logo that had been altered to include a green “G.” Google has only had a green “G” in their logo once, and very briefly. It appeared from September 28 to October 29, 1998.

Remembering Logos by Demographics

How do demographics, like age and gender, play a role in how well Americans recognize logos? We dug deeper into our results to find out. Key takeaways include:

Women are more likely to remember logos than men

Younger generations are more able to recognize tech logos

Costco’s key demographic struggles to recognize the store’s logo

Women Are More Likely to Remember Logos Than Men

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Women were able to select the correct logo more often than men in all instances. The largest discrepancy between men and women was the selection of the Marshalls logo, which 64 percent of women selected correctly versus 57 percent of men.

Younger Generations Are More Able to Recognize Tech Logos

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Across the board, we found that younger generations, specifically those between 18 and 24 years old, are more able to correctly identify logos compared to other generations of Americans. This generation was most easily able to recognize logos from technology brands Google and Apple.

Costco’s Key Demographic Struggles to Recognize the Store’s Logo

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Surprisingly, despite the fact that Costco’s core demographic is older, with baby boomers and seniors reportedly making up the majority of members, members of Generation Z were able to select the correct logo at a much higher rate than those aged 65 and above.

Summary

So, how well do Americans recognize top brands? Probably not as well as the company marketing teams would prefer. While Americans were overall successful at identifying the Google logo, the majority were still unable to recognize some of the world’s top brands, including $1 trillion Apple and America’s second largest retailer, Target.

As customers increasingly move their business online and away from the traditional loyalty model that came with brick and mortar shopping, brands will need to continue putting efforts into branding and identity to ensure that they retain their customer base.

Methodology

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How did we choose logos? To get a better sense of how well Americans recognize branding, we took a look at some of the top retail and technology brands in the United States. We chose six retailers that fit into three categories: technology, superstore or retail.

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