From billboards to banner ads to bathing suits, corporate logos are everywhere. They're so ubiquitous that we tune them out. They're just part of the scenery of the modern world.
But just because we stop noticing logos doesn't mean they stop affecting us. A group of researchers published a study in the Journal of Consumer Research that explored the subliminal impact that logos can have on our behavior. And what they found might surprise you.
- The setup: The researchers wanted to see whether subliminal exposure to company logos could impact behavior in areas such as creative expression. To explore this, the they gathered two groups of university students and asked them to complete a basic counting task on the computer. But while completing this task, a company logo (either Apple or IBM) was flashed on the screen. Each individual was exposed to one of the two logos 48 times for a duration of 13 milliseconds per flash (much too fast to be consciously noticed).
- The test: Both the Apple and the IBM groups were then given a standard creativity test: they were asked to brainstorm as many creative uses for a brick as they could.
- The findings: Individuals who had been secretly flashed the Apple logo performed 19% better on the creativity task than individuals who had "seen" the IBM logo. Even though their exposure to the two brands was entirely subliminal, the Apple logo managed to seriously improve individual's creative ability.