Thursday, June 07, 2007

What went wrong in the 2012 research

...yet another blog post on the 2012 logo then?

Well yes - what I want to focus on is not necessarily the validity of the logo (which I think is actually quite cool in it's multimedia incarnation) but what lessons there are for researchers.

It's clear that public opinion in the UK and elsewhere isn't 100% behind the logo. Any well conducted research would have shown that this logo would divide opinion. That in itself is no big deal. However there is another theory and it's this. Although a great deal of research would have been done to justify the logo (£400k goes a fair way), it may not have actually been done properly - it's possible that they asked the wrong questions and in this may have included the use of leading questions - these are a real problem in this type of research.

In this case, a leading question would have been "do you think that this logo expresses dynamism and energy?" - clearly the question itself leads the respondent to assess the logo on the emotive terms dynamism and energy. If the selection criteria for the logo are these characteristics then - hey presto - we have a winner. A better question would have been "what emotions does this logo convey" - at least this wouldn't have led respondents to certain answers.

Let's turn to that great TV series "Yes, Prime Minister" for the definitive explanation:

Sir Humphrey: "You know what happens: nice young lady comes up to you. Obviously you want to create a good impression, you don't want to look a fool, do you? So she starts asking you some questions: Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the number of young people without jobs?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Are you worried about the rise in crime among teenagers?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Do you think there is a lack of discipline in our Comprehensive schools?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Do you think young people welcome some authority and leadership in their lives?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Do you think they respond to a challenge?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Would you be in favour of reintroducing National Service?"
Bernard Woolley: "Oh...well, I suppose I might be."
Sir Humphrey: "Yes or no?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Of course you would, Bernard. After all you told you can't say no to that. So they don't mention the first five questions and they publish the last one."
Bernard Woolley: "Is that really what they do?"
Sir Humphrey: "Well, not the reputable ones no, but there aren't many of those. So alternatively the young lady can get the opposite result."
Bernard Woolley: "How?"
Sir Humphrey: "Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the danger of war?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Are you worried about the growth of armaments?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Do you think there is a danger in giving young people guns and teaching them how to kill?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Do you think it is wrong to force people to take up arms against their will?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Would you oppose the reintroduction of National Service?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "There you are, you see Bernard. The perfect balanced sample."

As I said at the start, I like the logo. However many people don't and such an adverse reaction to a picture has to be unique in the history of logo design.

So that's my theory - it researched well for one of two reasons - either they asked leading questions because they wanted a certain answer or the questions were formed in such a way that one logo one over the others. Either way, I'd love to see the research which gave us this new logo.

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