No, we haven’t gone all Daily Mash. A serious study by serious folk has uncovered a serious almost-conclusive conclusion about the psychology behind letter casing for brand names.
Led by Dr Manuel Perea from the University of Valencia, a team of researchers at The British Journal of Psychology have established that customers are more likely to remember a brand name if its logo is written in upper case. They think (subject to further testing).
The study was conducted using two experiments. The first, involving 20 volunteers, consisted of showing individuals a series of familiar brand names, with 52 printed in upper case letters and 52 printed in lower case. The volunteers were then asked to say within a small timeframe which were brand names and which weren’t. Some of the brand names were shown as they would be usually printed, for example adidas and IKEA, and some were shown in opposite case form, with results showing that people were quicker at establishing the real brands in uppercase.
The second experiment involved presenting volunteers with the same brand name twice in different cases and asked to establish which was the correct form. Respondents were correct in identifying brands which had upper casing far more often than when they were lower case.
“Our findings are interesting because current psychological theory suggests that people recognise words exclusively on the basis of their abstract letter identities, with the case of those letters playing no part,” says Dr Perea. “It seems we have posed some problems for that theory.”
“The visual elements of a brand name – colour, format – are important to the recognition of brand names. In our experiments, the brand names were presented in a standard font, but there is scope for further work that presents the brand names in their usual configurations and examines whether this makes them easier to recognise.”
So not 100% confirmation of what the results say, but basically there.
In Dr Perea and his research team’s defence, a number of studies have been conducted in the past related to the impact of colour in brand names as well as the typeface and format, yet never anything to do with the type of letter case. Style is often connected to the reasons behind brands deciding what case to use, yet many brands choose to shirk uppercase logos for fear of it looking a bit ‘shouty’.
However, if the second installment of British Journal of Psychology research really does confirm that capital letters are more etymologically recognisable than lower case, we could soon be referring to brands such as COCA-COLA and DISNEY, whether it scares the living daylight out of the kids or not.
Chris is Editor of MyCustomer. He is a practiced editor, having worked as a copywriter for creative agency, Stranger Collective from 2009 to 2011 and subsequently as a journalist covering technology, marketing and customer service from 2011-2014 as editor of Business Cloud News. He joined MyCustomer in 2014.