Numerous studies in the field of branding have shown that consumers associate certain brands with the masculine gender, and others with the feminine gender. The question remains, however, as to why consumers attribute a gender to a brand. This is the question that 3 Chinese researchers have tackled in a recent publication. Through 7 separate studies they demonstrate that the semantic elements associated with size (big, big, small, giant,) create unexpected associations in the minds of consumers.
- Which brands contain size indications in their name?
- How do consumers perceive brands containing an indication of size?
- Results and implications for your marketing strategy
- 13 car models that give an indication of size
If you only have 30 seconds
Which brands contain size indications in their name?
One of the studies was based on Yelp. Of the companies analyzed, 928 contained an indication of size in their name. This scenario is not limited to small businesses present on Yelp. Major national or international brands contain significant elements in their name. Think Mini Cooper, Grand Cherokee car. This indication of size is also very widespread in terms of food (think for example of the “Big Mac”). Brands like to distinguish themselves by adding adjectives emphasizing the size of the product. It is an integral part of their branding.
How do consumers perceive brands containing an indication of size?
Now let’s get to the heart of this article. What are the implicit associations that the consumer makes when faced with a brand name containing an indication of size?
Insight 1: brands have a gender
At the risk of invoking stereotypes, scientific research shows that humans easily associate attributes of masculinity or femininity with words referring to size (see Schmitt and Zhang, 1998). This spontaneous cognitive association probably dates back to the very evolution of our species. They indeed determines the size and whatever the species, the females are generally smaller than the males (except in the praying mantis and the golden Nephilim, but that is another story).
The first working hypothesis is therefore that the consumer associates a sex with a brand and that this association will be influenced by the presence of an element relating to size (large, small, long, etc.).
Insight 2: induces a series of stereotypes
To continue on stereotypes, human beings associate certain traits based on external elements. You’ve probably heard of judgments about professional ghostwriters competence that are influenced by a person’s beauty or spelling. Even more directly, research shows that men are associated with competence and women with friendliness (White & Gardner, 2009).
Results and implications for your branding
The results of the study by Zing, Li and Ng (2022) confirm that the stereotypes present in everyday life also apply to brand names. In other words, the inferred gender of a brand influences the perceived qualities of that brand.
- Brands that include semantic elements suggesting large size are perceived as more competent
- Brands that include semantic elements suggesting small size are perceived as warmer
This result of course calls for reflection in terms of branding. Before deciding on a brand name, it is important to carefully assess what brand image you want to give. In the technical field, a perception of competence is absolutely essential and desired. In a sector where the human relationship takes precedence, perhaps human warmth and cordiality would be elements that would prevail in a purchase decision.
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