Communicating product size using sound and shape symbolism

Stacey Baxter, Jasmina Ilicic, Alicia Kulczynski, Tina Lowrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to investigate children s perception of a product s physical attribute (size) when presented with brand elements (brand name and brand logo) manipulated using sound and shape symbolism principles (brand name sounds and brand logo shape), across children of different developmental ages. Design/methodology/approach - The relationship between sounds and shapes was examined in a pilot study. A 2 x 2 experiment was then undertaken to examine the effect of brand name characteristics (front vowel sound versus back vowel sound) and brand logo design (angular versus curved) on children s (from 5 to 12 years) product-related judgments. Findings - Older children use non-semantic brand stimuli as a means to infer physical product attributes. Specifically, only older children are able to perceive a product to be smaller (larger) when the product is paired with a brand name containing a front (back) vowel sound or an angular (curved) brand logo (single symbolic cue). We illustrate that brand logo-related shape symbolism effects are weaker and appear later in age when compared with brand name-related sound symbolism effects. Further, younger children are able to infer product attribute meaning when exposed to two symbolic cues (that is, brand name and brand logo). Practical implications - When selecting an inventive brand element, consideration should be given to the relationship between the vowel sounds contained in a brand s name and product attributes, and also the shape of the brand s logo and product attributes. Originality/value - This is the first experiment undertaken to examine the combination of brand name- and brand logo-related symbolism effects in the context of children. We demonstrate that age-based bounds may be overcome through the provision of multiple symbolic cues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)472 - 480
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Product & Brand Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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