When a brand IS just a logo ~ Brand Mix

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

When a brand IS just a logo

So, for all those who you for whom "brand is not a logo" is a mantra, ponder this.  As reported by The Economist, what counts on designer clothing is the label, not the design.

Rob Nelissen and Marijn Meijers of Tilburg University in the Netherlands conducted a series of experiments taking a look at people's reactions to people wearing Lacoste and other designer clothing brands. As they report in a paper in Evolution and Human Behavior:

"Across seven experiments, displays of luxury — manipulated through brand labels on clothes — elicited different kinds of preferential treatment, which even resulted in financial benefits to people who engaged in conspicuous consumption"
In other words, buying expensive designer clothes may be a good investment strategy--the costs of the clothes covered by the benefits received. But the effect only works when the origin of the clothes is obvious (i.e. people can see the label).

Dr Nelissen and Dr Meijers think that people react to the labels as signals of underlying quality and propose that this is an adaptation of what goes on in the animal kingdom all the time--the peacock with the best tail wins. However, as The Economist points out, what works in biology doesn't work so well as a status-assessment mechanism. The label takes on more than its fair share of significance--it's our mental shortcut and proxy not just for the quality of the clothes but also for the character and value of the person wearing them.

So, a brand may not be a logo but a logo sure can be an important repository for a brand.


Lukas said...

The interesting question for me would be whether the wearers of the clothes knew what they were wearing. I can imagine that somebody who knows he/she is wearing expensive clothes behaves in a different way and will therefore be treated differently by other people.

Some really expensive clothes don't have labels at all. They are custom tailored and people who spend £10.000 or more on a suit might be (or pretend to be) a bit surer of themselves than others.

The logo would then be only a part of the brand - the shortcut you mentioned - but the intangible components would be what really counts.

Martin Bishop said...

Lukas: That's a great comment. As far as I know, the research only looked at the question from the perspective of the people seeing the label, not the people wearing the label. I'm sure you're right--the one wearing the logo would change his/her behavior too.

Veneta Rangelova said...

Logos have indeed always been an integral part of the brand perception. And although they do not define the brand as a whole, they certainly are that iconic symbol that people tend to turn into cult sometimes. This reminds me of that bind test Pepsi did several years ago...On the test the focus group was asked to test and estimate 2 cups of cola drink with no labels assigned. After the test results came out Pepsi had gained 90% of the votes to be the better tasting drink. Yet when tested in the real market, labels on, Coca Cola gained twice as much customers as Pepsi...after all the company did have the more recognizible logo back then :)

Martin Bishop said...

Veneta: Thanks for your comment and sharing the Pepsi/Coca Cola test.

@ArabBrands said...

"People react to the labels as signals of underlying quality."

So, the label merely acts as a visual representative of perceived brand promise. In this case, quality.

Thus, the brand is not the logo.

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Lukas Widmer said...

My initial comment is almost five year old, but just today I came across this article: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-18/how-an-expensive-suit-can-make-you-better-at-your-job

Obviously there is a connection between brand/labels and how people behave.

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