Can a 3-year-old recognize the Target logo?

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As the holiday shopping season begins, we test the brand IQ of America's most influential consumers: kids.

What’s in a logo? For a child just learning to read, a lot more than we probably realize.

Symbols help children navigate the world. As toddlers, we learn that a red octagon means stop and a green light means go. So why shouldn’t a five-year-old recognize the YouTube logo, or a three-year-old know that the funny mermaid lady stands for coffee?

"It is actually helpful for a child to be able to recognize a logo and say a brand name," said Anna R. McAlister, an associate professor of marketing at Endicott College and a leading researcher on kids and logos. "A child who wants a hamburger may not be able to say ‘hamburger.’ But if he can point to the Burger King logo, then the parent knows what he’s looking for."

The problem, of course, is that not all logos appear with equal frequency. A child is far more likely to see the Burger King logo on any given day than the logo for, say, Bolthouse Farms, a leading purveyor of carrots. "There’s an uneven playing field," said McAlister, which helps skew the choices a child — and parent — might make.

What logos are kids most likely to recognize? For a scientific answer, read some of McAlister’s research. For a more entertaining take, check out our video above, in which we challenged some kids to identify everyday logos. What we found is that kids have a remarkably high logo IQ, even if the specific ones they recognize are hard to predict.

"How to Advertise to Kids Now" is a new series in which Campaign US examines the smartest, most innovative, and responsible ways advertisers are reaching kids today. The weeklong series launches Monday, Nov. 16, and will consist of features, interviews and guest columns from some of the brightest minds in children’s advertising and research.


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