Many designers assume that center or right aligning their website logo will make their brand more memorable. Research has shown this assumption is not true.
In fact, straying from a left aligned logo can make your brand less memorable and even your site harder to navigate.
Right Aligned Logos Weaken Brand Recall
A study conducted by the Nielsen Norman group concluded that more users remember brands when their logos are placed on the left rather than on the right. They found the “average lift in brand recall was 89%” when the logo is on the left.
When users scan sites, their visual gaze leans toward the left. A logo placed on the right will get fewer visual gazes, which results in weaker brand recall. Placing your logo on the left gives it more visual gazes, which allows more users to remember your brand.
Centered Logos Impede Navigation to Homepage
The Nielson Norman group also did a study on center aligned logos. They did not find a stronger brand recall with center aligned logos more than left aligned logos. Other design factors such as logo contrast and legibility have more of an affect on brand recall.
Not only that, but they also impede the user’s ability to navigate to the homepage. The results showed users are “six times as likely” to fail to navigate to the homepage in a single click when the logo is centered compared to left aligned.
Users have a conditioned habit of clicking the leftmost element to get to the homepage. If that element is not the logo, they’ll click whatever link is there. This navigation error can send users on a journey through several wrong pages before they find their way home.
One way to prevent this navigation error is to place a “Home” link on the far left side of your navigation bar. When users gaze left to navigate to the homepage they’ll spot the link, and click correctly on the first try.
Left Aligned Logos Work Best
If brand recall and homepage navigation are important to you, follow the convention of left aligning your logo. Users scan pages starting from the top left corner going left to right down the page. This means users will gaze more on a left aligned logo than a centered or right aligned one.
The more visual gazes your logo gets, the easier it is for users to recall your brand. Placing your logo on the left also reinforces the user’s habit for clicking the leftmost element to get to the homepage.
Most languages in the world use left to right scripts, but there are a few that use right to left scripts. This could mean right aligned logos on sites with right to left scripts (e.g. Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, Urdu) may be better for brand recall and homepage navigation.
The research presented did not test this theory, but future studies should. Regardless, it’s a good practice to align your logo on the side where user gaze leans.
Your logo has a major impact on a user’s first impression. If it isn’t memorable, users are less likely to revisit your site. The logo alignment on your header plays a key role in determining brand recall.
Left alignment for logos is a convention users expect and are most familiar with. Straying away from it won’t make your brand more memorable.
User gazing and navigation habits should dictate where you place your logo. Following this logo convention, not violating it, is the best way for a brand to stand out.