The Importance of Logos and Names in Brand Positioning

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                                                       (Bonigala, n.d.)

What does a yellow M make you think of? What about a black Swoosh? How about a blue bird? Did you think of McDonald’s, Nike, or Twitter? These are all examples of brands who have successfully used their logo to help position themselves.

What is positioning? According to Entrepreneur, “positioning helps establish your product’s or service’s identity within the eyes of the purchaser” (Entrepreneur, n.d., para 1). Positioning differentiates a brand within the minds of consumers. It helps them make choices in a world full of brands. A strong and relevant logo, and name, can help a brand communicate their identity and position themselves. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples!

Successful use of a Logo

Image result for amazon arrow

Can you identify the brand behind this logo? If you said Amazon, you are correct. But do you know why the company chose to represent itself through a curved arrow? Turner Duckworth, the creator of the logo, provides some insight on the meaning behind the design.

According to Duckworth, he was approached by Bezos when the company shifted from selling only books, to offering a more extensive product selection. Bezos wanted a logo that humanized the brand while reflecting the wide product selection. Also, they wanted something to reflect the happiness customers felt when receiving their Amazon deliveries. And thus, the Amazon arrow was born (Duckworth, n.d.).

Per Duckworth, “since everything Amazon sells is delivered, we started with a simple arrow, but curved it into the shape of a smile: Happy deliveries!” (Duckworth, n.d., para 4). They took it a step further and placed the arrow under the A and Z in Amazon to reflect that the company sells everything “from A to Z.” This concept also helped to reinforce the brand’s image and their commitment to offering their customers a vast selection (Duckworth, n.d.).

Not only did the logo reflect the company’s services, but it also reflected their vision. The company’s vision is “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online” (Amazon, n.d.). So, there is so much more to Amazon’s logo besides just a “cool design.” It is this genuine representation in their logo that makes it so successful in positioning the brand. 

Missed the Mark

Back in 2008, Pepsi decided it was time to re-brand the company and released this new logo. The new logo was said to be the beverage manufacturer’s attempt to portray an updated, simplistic, and youthful image. However, after the logo was released to the public, many stakeholders found the redesign to be bland, vague, and failed to portray the youthful presence the company was seeking. Pepsi tried to put a modern spin on their classic symmetrical logo. The new white swoop was meant to resemble a smile (McWade, 2009). But perhaps the company strayed a little too far from the logo that their customers were already familiar with?

(McWade, 2009)

In addition, this new logo also failed to portray the company’s mission and vision. Per PepsiCo, the company “is focused on delivering sustainable long-term growth while leaving a positive imprint on society and the environment – what we call Performance with Purpose” (PepsiCo, n.d.). The design agency behind the redesign created a 27-page strategy as to why they chose this new logo. Among many aspects, they claimed it was inspired by the Renaissance, Mona Lisa, Earth’s gravitational pull, and the Parthenon (McWade, 2009).

Their strategy was scattered and unaligned with the brand’s desired image. What’s worse, is that consumers, and other shareholders, failed to see what the brand was attempting to portray, hindering the company’s positioning with the new logo (McWade, 2009).

Importance of the Name

In addition to a logo, a name can be just as important when a brand seeks to position themselves. Let’s go back to the Amazon example. Amazon was originally founded as “Cadabra.” However, Bezos decided to change it after repeatedly being mistaken for “cadaver” (yikes). The founder wanted a name that started with A, and contained a Z, to reflect the wide range of books carried (at the time). He landed on Amazon. Bezos also liked that it was in reference to the worlds largest river, reflecting the breadth of the product selection the retailer carried (History of Amazon, n.d.).

So, what made this name so successful? According to Alina Wheeler, author of Designing Brand Identity, there are a few critical aspects to selecting an effective name. The name must be meaningful, distinctive, positive, visual, and protectable. It must allow for future extensions and growth. Amazon was able to achieve all of these factors with their name. Additionally, connecting the name with a story or myth can be an effective strategy for positioning the name. Amazon has a genuine story behind their name, that also reflects what differentiates the brand, combining for powerful positioning (2013)!

To learn more about effective branding strategies, check out my blog Top Dog vs. Underdog to see who is the top dog and discover how they got there!

What brand name or logo is most memorable for you? Why?





Bonigala, M. (n.d.). Brand Positioning Strategy: How To Gain Mindshare [image]. Retrieved from

Duckworth, T. (n.d.). Amazon. Retrieved from

Entrepreneur. (n.d.) Positioning. Retrieved from

History of the Amazon Logo. (n.d.). Retrieved from

PepsiCo. (n.d.). Mission & Vision. Retrieved from

Wheeler, A. (2013). Designing brand identity: An essential guide for the whole branding team (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons P&T. VitalBook file.

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