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The Colonel rules the roost.

KFC Corp.'s logo is the only symbol out of 26 tested that significantly enhances consumers' image of the brand, according to the Schechter Group.

This year's logo study, commissioned by the New York-based corporate identity and design operation, found that few logos help a company's corporate or brand image, and KFC was the only company that enjoyed a positive impact exceeding the survey's 5-percentage-point margin of error.

"Over the past three years, the new KFC logo has become a real marketing asset, demonstrating how the right design can help to build brand value," said Alvin Schechter, chairman-CEO of the Schechter Group.

The Schechter Group tested the KFC logo in 1991, when it had just hit the market. At the time, the logo enhanced brand image by 5%. When tested again this year, it enhanced the image by 24%. Mr. Schechter believes that ongoing use of Colonel Sanders' face in the logo has helped brand image.

The Schechter Group surveyed two panels of 150 randomly chosen consumers. One group was shown the company's name in black ink and asked to rank it on four positive attributes: "trustworthy and reputable"; "offering quality products and services"; "having products and services for the 1990s"; and "offering a product or service I would use." The other group was shown the color logo and told to do the same.

The logo percentage, like the 24% for KFC, was derived by comparing the consumers' impressions of a company's name in black ink vs. consumers' impressions using the color logo. The number reflects the change in percentage of the people in these two groups who "agree strongly" with positive statements about the company. The number could be positive or negative.

Since 1991, the Schechter Group has tested 98 company and brand logos, and every year it has found few logos that make a difference. In that time, only about 26% of the logos have had a positive effect, 30% a negative effect and 45% no effect on brand or corporate image.

When it comes to "brand esteem," insurance companies bring up the rear in surveyed industry categories. Schechter measures brand esteem based only on responses to the logo; insurance companies have scored a 28% since '91.

Insurance "is an industry that is mistrusted," Mr. Schechter said. "Insurance is like medicine, people have to take it because it's good for them."

Broadcasting companies scored highest in brand esteem, at 64%. Mr. Schechter believes broadcast companies scored well because consumers are very familiar with their logos and trust TV.

Other industries that have fared well were package-goods marketers and delivery services. Joining insurance companies at the bottom of the brand esteem list are fast-food restaurants and telecommunications companies.

Leah Rickard coordinates Research News.

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