Superstitious Branding
28th October 2015

Superstitious Brand Design

Halloween. A time for the spooky, frightening and magical happenings to be lived out through imaginative costumes and decorations. Many of us will be celebrating this historic event, scaring off the weird creatures and evil spirits of the underworld.

Nowadays there are fewer people that really believe in the ghosts and paranormal happenings the party was originally created to protect us from. But superstitious beliefs are more common than you might imagine and these beliefs might impact on how people identify with your brand.

In 2012 the European Journal of Marketing published research by Yong Jian Wang, Monica D. Hernandez, Michael S. Minor and Jie Wei titled ‘Superstitious beliefs in consumer evaluation of brand logos; Implications for corporate branding strategy’.

Lucky Charms

The research included primary data collected through 294 questionnaires to randomly selected participants that represented a cross-section of the community in the state of Texas, USA. I don’t know what Texans are like for superstition but it is worth noting that generally I would say we are greater skeptics then them!

The four researchers had identified 6 categories of superstitious beliefs;
• fate
• fortune-tellers
• magic and fictional figures
• urban legends
• lucky charms
• superstitious rituals.


Of these six categories, the researchers proposed that a belief in fate would have no impact on brand sensitivity as individuals would lack a desire to maintain control. But then if you believed in fate you are likely to just let things happen in all aspects of your future. They were right, although I would welcome submission of a design based around fate symbols as I have no idea what they would look like.

The other five categories should have a positive effect on brand sensitivity based on the researchers discussion of previous findings. There were a total of 18 questions on superstitious beliefs and 4 on brand sensitivity following a process of sampling and refinement. What the researchers found is quite surprising.

“An understanding of consumers’ superstition towards brand logos is crucial in framing corporate branding strategies in order to maximise brand equity”
(Wang et al, 2012, p725)

Fortune Tellers

Their research shows that there are some key graphic elements to avoid when designing a logo and some to consider incorporating from the different belief systems.

The research did show that a belief in urban legends had a significantly lower effect on brand sensitivity than the other elements as the context of the legend has a twist that would make it quite specific to the individual brand or design. Like the rumor that Proctor & Gambles ‘Man in the Moon’ logo was a sign of satanic worship. Apparently he has horns and an upside down ‘666’ in his beard… yeah that’s what we thought.

Proctor & Gamble

So this leaves us with belief symbols related to fortune-tellers, magic & fictional characters and lucky charms or rituals. Here there are significant benefits to brand sensitivity and some more universal elements you could include in a design. With that in mind we created a logo for these superstitious potential customers, let us know what you think.

Perfect Logo

Jian Wang, Yong et al. ‘Superstitious Beliefs In Consumer Evaluation Of Brand Logos’. European Journal of Marketing 46.5 (2012): 712-732. Web.

If you found this interesting and need tips on logo design, why not check out our infographic on ‘How Colour Defines a Brand‘.

About Lisa Cooper

Lisa Cooper is a photographer and marketing writer working for Print-Print Limited, promoting business and building your brand through quality print marketing. If you’re interested in small business promotion then please get in touch