How Hard Is It to Draw a Brand Logo From Memory? Much, Much Harder Than You Thought

Signs.com tested people in an intriguing new study

You’re a brand nerd par excellence, and you think you’ve got your brand logos down cold. But then you’re asked to draw a well-known logo from memory—and you completely botch it.

Brand logos are the most famous images of our time. But it turns out they’re exceedingly difficult to recreate without looking at them, as a fun new Branded in Memory study from Signs.com proves. Some are easier than others, though, which also raises the question of what value there is, exactly, in the simplicity or complexity of a brand mark.

Signs.com asked 150 Americans to draw 10 famous logos from memory:

  • 7-Eleven
  • Apple
  • Adidas
  • Burger King
  • Domino’s
  • Foot Locker
  • Ikea
  • Starbucks
  • Target
  • Walmart

The resulting 1,500 drawings were created over a period of 80 hours. The results are pretty amusing—in that only a small fraction of the drawing are pretty accurate.

Here are the drawings for three of the brands:

Apple

Domino’s

Starbucks

And here are the overall results for how people fared on each logo:

The Branded in Memory website goes into fascinating detail about each logo, and how the participants did in recreating it. In broad terms, Signs.com explains the overall results this way:

These ubiquitous emblems largely exist as fuzzy visions in our mind’s eye. One in 5 people thinks the Foot Locker referee wears a hat (he doesn’t), and nearly half of people believe the Starbucks mermaid does not wear a crown (she does). That only scratches the surface of what our study found out.

The question at the heart of this experiment is “How accurately can we recall logos we see on a daily basis?” The results show that most people are very good at recalling brand colors—around 80 percent selected the correct palettes for their drawings, while shapes and elements in logos are harder to recall.

When a brand’s logo changes over time, a subset of people mistakenly conflates old and new versions. Similarly, we sometimes slip up when advertising utilizes strong symbols not used in the logo (e.g., the Burger King crown).

Overall, 16 percent of people drew near perfect logos, and 37 percent were good but not perfect. As we would expect, the more complex the logo, the less likely people are to remember it in full.

Check out lots more on the Branded in Memory site. And below, see GIFs of some of the drawings incorporated onto brand products, storefronts and more.

7-Eleven

Apple

Adidas

Burger King

Domino’s

Foot Locker

Ikea

Starbucks

Target

Walmart