Articles

Sound symbolism effects across languages: Implications for global brand names

Tina LOWREY, L. SHRUM, D. LUNA, D. B. LERMAN, M. LIU

International Journal of Research in Marketing

September 2012, vol. 29, n°3, pp.275-279

Departments: Marketing, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Keywords: Phonetic symbolism, Sound symbolism, Brand names, Psycholinguistics


Selecting good brand names for products is a critical step for marketers, and many aspects of a brand name influence brand perceptions. Three experiments investigated the effects of phonetic symbolism (the impact of sound on meaning) on brand name preference, the extent to which these effects generalize to other languages, and the processes that underlie these effects. When choosing brand names, French-, Spanish-, and Chinese-speaking participants who were bilingual in English preferred words in which there was a match between the phonetic symbolism of the words and the product attributes. These results were unaffected by whether participants completed the study in their first or second language, by second-language proficiency, or by whether the Chinese language representations were in logographic or alphabetic form. These findings replicate those of Lowrey and Shrum (2007) and indicate that phonetic symbolism effects for brand name perceptions can generalize across languages, and thus suggest that marketers may be able to embed universal meaning in their brand names.


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