Buyers are still buying—they are just buying differently. A large part of this difference is that a buying decision is emotionally based and no longer logically based. They are also buying by brand recognition for a strong brand develops emotions of trust and perceived quality. Thus, the concept of emotional branding has become part of the all important brand process and so does logo designs.

So even though logo designs serve as a mind trigger to business brands, it is important that it is part of the total emotional branding process. This mind trigger must also create an emotional connection. As a result, your logo triggers an expression of your corporate culture, personality, and the products and services you offer. Your logo and its colors, expressed either as a graphic symbol or logotype (typographic style of your name such as FedEx) or a combination of both are important.

Logos with heart

Marc Gobe, in his book Emotional Branding, provides a graphic representation of how logos have changed over time. This chart shows how corporate identities have migrated over time as buyer’s emotional reactions have entered the buying decision process. “Corporate identities are transforming from the “dictated” visual identities of the past (corporate-centric identities that tell us what will be the unconditional values they represent) to the personal visual identities (those designed around an emotion and whose interpretation is often different from one consumer to the next) of the past and future.”

The emotional meaning of a brand needs to evolve from dictated to personal, from impact to contact.


Looking back over the last 40 – 50 years of logo development, there are three distinct period:

  • Pragmatist Age ( 1940 – 67)
  • Evangelist Age (1968-89)
  • Sensualist Age ( from 1990 to the present)



Pragmatist Age

As American Corporations ventured into the global market, logo designs started to be recognized as important tools to marketing. Logos from this area were cultural symbols reflecting the corporate profile and the success of this industrial age. Visibility, stability, and consistency were important elements of the corporate  value. Successful brand icons from this age were/are Coca-cola, McDonalds, IBM, Ford, TWA, Marlboro, etc.


Evangelist Age

Onto the business stage arrived the Baby Boomers. This age cohort entrepreneurs injected into their business practices and values new concepts that represented philosophies of justice, equality, and sensitivity to the environment. Business practices considered the impact it had on people and the planet. For example, Apple deliberately distanced itself from IBM.

Nike created a counter-culture marketing program that focused on people, in particular women. Virgin Atlantic promoted fun, friendly style and better responsiveness to flyer’s needs. Corporate icons reflected this freestyle design. They used typography that did not have the previous age’s mechanical look. Brand-identity programs reflected new logos, packaging, and store designs that were personal statements about the brand’s philosophy.



The Sensualist Age

With the business age cohort moving toward the Gen-X generation, the emphasis started to shift toward the individual, toward seeking immediate rewards and a need for constant change. Brand icons started to change. Even nomenclature changed drastically as demonstrated by internet companies such as: Amazon, Yahoo and eBay. To read two additional blogs on age cohorts, click here for Part 1 and click here for Part II.



Logos forty years ago were designed to look good on manufacturing plants’ smoke stacks. Today corporate identities are changing to become consumer-driven, flexible, multi-sensorial expressions of not just what the company thinks but how they want to be perceived by buyers and more importantly how they want people to interact with them. An example is how Target uses its logo of a red bull’s-eye to develop whole stories and campaigns about being fashionable, modern, and fun.

In the future, logos will become not only physical markers but serve as cultural markers with potential buyers.


A basic requirement for providing integrated marketing services is knowing the persona of your targeted buyers. To help develop your buyers’ personas, download the free template, Creating Buyer Personas to assist you in creating and documenting target buyer personas.


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