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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Business Research, Volume 66, Issue 1, January 2013, Pages 82–88
This research investigates the phenomenon of brand revitalization by exploring the effects of logo similarity and type of logo on brand modernity and brand loyalty. An experiment involving 385 respondents shows that logo redesign affects the perception of brand modernity. The proposed model highlights the importance of certain logo characteristics in explaining logo attitude and demonstrating the effects on brand modernity, brand attitude, and finally, brand loyalty. Results contribute to filling the gap of existing theory in this research field.
Previous studies often compare brands to human beings. Researchers investigate, for example, brand personality (Aaker, 1997), brand–consumer relationships (Escalas, 2004 and Fournier, 1998) and human representations of brands such as Mr. Peanut and the Michelin Man (Aggarwal, 2007). The anthropomorphic theory states that people have a natural tendency to “anthropomorphize” brands, thus assigning human characteristics to non-human objects and events (Guthrie, 1997). Following the same logic, one may compare a brand's life cycle to a human's life cycle, which at one point encounters the issue of ageing. A brand has a date of birth (launch of the brand), childhood (first years), goes through puberty (potential problems arise in the early stages), gets married (through mergers and acquisitions), reproduces (through brand extensions), grows older (market share decreases, sales vanish), and finally dies one day (through inappropriate and inefficient management) (e.g. Aaker and Joachimsthaler, 2000, Ewing et al., 2009, Hem et al., 2003 and Lehu, 2004). However, as several researchers argue, contrary to human beings, properly managed brands may live for centuries (e.g. Plummer, 1990). In other words, brands confront a plethora of challenges during their lifespan, pinpointing the importance of proper brand management over time if they want to live as long as possible (Berry, 1988). One way to handle these hurdles and to keep brands up-to-date is through rejuvenation. According to Keller (2003), a change in brand elements (notably brand logos) may revitalize a brand perceived as outdated. Brand revitalization represents the focal point of this research. More specifically, this study explores the impact of change in visual identity on perceptions of brand modernity, brand attitude and brand loyalty. First, the article develops literature on ageing brands and one of the potential remedies, rejuvenation. Then, an experimental study explores the impact of rejuvenation on brand modernity, brand attitude and brand loyalty. The second objective is to assess which logo characteristics influence logo attitude and whether logo attitude affects brand modernity, brand attitude and in turn brand loyalty. Finally, the discussion of the results concludes with future research avenues.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The aim of this research is twofold. First, this study intends to analyze the effects of a logo change on brand modernity, brand attitude and brand loyalty. Based on evidence from an empirical survey, results show that a logo change affects the perception of brand modernity. More precisely, the main effect of the type of logo is significant for both product categories used in this research. In fact, the introduction of a new logo leads consumers to perceive a brand as more modern. However, besides this main logo type effect, results show a marginally significant two-way interaction. This interaction leads to mixed results. Depending on the product category, brand modernity is higher after the introduction of a similar but also of a dissimilar new logo. These findings suggest that radical changes are not necessarily detrimental for the evaluation of a brand. This study does not analyze specific elements constituting logos. Even though the similarity between the logos under investigation relies on shape and color, the authors do not analyze these characteristics individually. The purpose of this research is to assess one of the consequences of these changes, brand modernity. The impact of these characteristics is, however, an important question as these elements highly influence the perceived meaning of a logo. As consumers associate colors, shapes and even typefaces with different meanings, they “make clear judgments about the image of a firm from the logo design and have strong opinions about which colors are appropriate for different corporate images” (Hynes, 2009, p. 545). Henderson and Cote (1998) suggest that analyzing consumer perception of different typefaces is useful as many logos consist of not only pictures and characters, but also words. Managers should therefore be aware of the importance of modifying logos including changes in color, shape and typeface. Moreover, results do not show a significant effect of logo change on brand attitude or brand loyalty. In other words, the absence of perceived similarity does not always have a negative impact on brand attitude. The importance of perceived similarity between the former version of the logo and the new one seems therefore weaker than highlighted by Keller (2003). However, according to the type of logo respondents see, their attitude toward the logo differs significantly. Since logo attitude is different, the second objective of the study is to identify which characteristics influence this logo attitude and which variables logo attitude subsequently influences. The analysis using structural equation modeling identifies two variables as positively affecting attitude toward the logo, namely logo familiarity and logo attractiveness. Logo complexity and logo appropriateness are not significant. This result may be particularly important for brand mangers when modifying existing logos. In fact, no apparent reasons should hinder brand managers from radically changing their logo, as these changes do not directly affect brand attitude. However, they should take into account the perceived attractiveness of the logo for consumers and their familiarity with the logo. In addition, results show the impact of brand modernity on brand loyalty, confirming Lentz et al.'s (2005) results. Brand loyalty represents an undeniable competitive advantage, since loyal customers are less sensitive to increased prices, to reduced service, and to reduced advertising (Keller, 1993). Therefore, one can argue that the logo contributes to the success of a brand. A logo may make the difference between a brand perceived either as an “up-to-date” or as a “has been” brand. Companies may therefore charge a price premium to loyal customers and benefit from better advertising efficiency (Bennet and Rundle-Thiele, 2005). These benefits combined lead to increased shareholder value and, hence, to higher profitability (Buzzell and Gale, 1987). Given the advantages of brand modernity, managers should devote much attention to the perceived modernity of their brand. This recommendation is also particularly true for multinational companies. When modifying a logo, organizations must take into account the countries that are concerned by these changes. Often used in an unchanged form when expanding the activity to foreign countries, managers should be aware of potential differences in perception. These cultural differences may even be stronger when analyzing brand personality. Indeed, as several authors demonstrate (Aaker et al., 2001, Bosnjak et al., 2007 and Milas and Mlačić, 2007), cross-cultural differences exist in the perception and the measurement of brand personality. As the concept of brand modernity used in this research comes from brand personality, these cross-cultural differences may also be applicable. Despite encouraging results, there are some limitations with regard to the brands used in this study as well as the participants. However, these impediments represent open avenues for future research. First, the brands used as stimuli are not free from potential biases. As previously mentioned, selecting existing brands adds complexity to evaluations. Even though pretests and manipulation checks allow a careful selection of brands under investigation, this method does not guarantee to control for all confounding effects. Hence, replicating this study on several brands from different product categories would be useful to explore the importance of logo similarity and the effects of logo change on brand modernity more extensively. These additional studies may permit to identify some general tendencies relative to product categories and better target recommendations for brand managers. Second, participants are students from one single country. Some researchers argue that several design dimensions may be generalizable. For example, according to Henderson et al. (2004, p. 71) “the present research and previous research on logos (Henderson and Cote, 1998) suggests that there may be universal design dimensions that are generalizable across stimuli. In addition, the responses to these designs may be relatively universal and generalizable”. Henderson et al. (2003) also suggest that the role of logo design in contributing to brand equity is of primary importance in less industrialized countries, when operating abroad, or in countries with logographic writing styles. Hence, a replication of this study among respondents other than students and from other countries would be beneficial for generalization. This paper addresses an important question concerning the rejuvenation of ageing brands. The findings demonstrate the impact and consequences of a change in visual identity on brand modernity, brand attitude and brand loyalty. Several avenues for future research include investigating which logo characteristics influence perceived brand modernity in much more detail. However, the objective of this research is to give a broad and general vision of logo change to brand managers much more than to investigate specific and detailed characteristics of logos as Henderson and Cote (1998) did. Another avenue for future research could be to include some personal variables. In fact, past researchers also investigate the impact of personal characteristics on visual stimuli (Bloch et al., 2003). For example, Sojka and Giese (2006) show that affective processors (individuals with a predisposition for affect) prefer advertisements and brands with a visual stimulus. Another variable could be customer innovativeness. Innovative customers are more receptive to changes and new ideas associated with the brand (Salinas and Perez, 2009) and could therefore react more favorably to rebranding strategies. As Pittard et al. (2007, p. 458) argue, “there is little systemic research on the effect of logo design on brand evaluation and preferences”. This research assesses precisely the impact of a logo change on evaluations and preferences. Future research should also look at the impact on brand memory as logos provide instant recognition for the brand (Pittard et al., 2007). However, current research does not allow assessing how the degree of similarity of a new logo influences brand recognition or recall. Moreover, as exemplified by IBM and Pepsi, which both use different logos simultaneously, understanding consumer reaction when faced with this kind of brand tactics is essential. The frequency of change could also be of primary importance. Whereas some brands almost never change logos, other companies undergo multiple major logo changes over short periods. Hence, a longitudinal study of logo changes might help to get a better understanding of the impact of frequency and time on brand perception. Finally, brand loyalty could be an explicative variable of attitude toward logo change. In fact, according to Pimentel and Heckler (2003), if similarity between old and new brand elements is high, loyal customers accept more easily slight logo changes due to familiarity effects. However, strongly committed consumers can also have more negative attitudes to logo change, in this case the reshape of the logo, when the importance of logo redesign increases (Walsh et al., 2010).