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The lexical decision task was aimed at measuring the implicit (unconscious) associations between the new or old logos and related brand qualities (Rivière et al., 2013). Participants were instructed to determine as quickly as possible if character strings were real French words or not (lexical decision task) after having been exposed to the old or the new school logos (primes). The test comprised a total of 40 sequences including 20 test and 20 distractive sequences designed to prevent participants from understanding the real objective of the study.
Each sequence was comprised of a fixation point presented at the center of the screen for 500 ms, followed by the presentation of the prime (new or old logo) for 250 ms, and finally by the presentation of the target until the participant produced a response. The 20 test sequences were constituted by the presentation of the primes followed by the presentation of the following words: innovation, prestige, international, openness, management, ready-to-wear, originality, strict, future, dynamism, i.e. related or unrelated qualities of the school’s brand.
Participants were then asked to fill in a questionnaire. They had to answer questions about their resistance to change (Oreg, 2003), their familiarity with the school’s brand (Michel and Vergne, 2004) and their attachment to the school’s brand (Lacoeuilhe and Belaïd, 2007).
Then, they were presented with the old or the new logo of the school and had to evaluate the perceived congruency of the logo with the school’s brand (Fleck, Roux and Darpy, 2005).
Respondents were also asked whether they knew the school had changed its logo and, if yes, whether they had been negatively or positively surprised by the new logo.
Findings Overall, our results demonstrated a greater attachment to the school’s brand for current students (m=5.08) than for entrants (m=4.76), F(1,242)=7.44, p.01, and a greater familiarity with the brand for current students (m=5.72) than for entrants (m=5.13), F(1, 242)=27.78, p.001. So the highest seniority group (current students) showed higher brand attachment and familiarity than the lowest seniority group (entrants). Moreover, current students showed a higher resistance to change (m=3.36) than entrants (m=3.06), F(1, 242)=5.72, p.02.
An ANOVA on perceived congruency with the seniority with the school and the presented logo as between-subject variables demonstrated a significant interaction, F(1, 242)=6.51, p=.01: the old logo was perceived more congruent with the brand by the current students (m=4.71) than by the entrants (m=4.03), p.05, while there was no difference in perceived congruency between the new logo and the brand between the 2 groups (m=4.70 & m=5.01 respectively). In other words, only entrants perceived the old logo as less congruent with the school’s brand.
Figure 1. Effect of seniority with the brand on perceived congruency between the logo and the brand.
Most of the participants knew the school had change its logo, but some did not (n=32). To investigate the impact of surprise on perceived congruency between the logo and the brand, we made a second series of analyses keeping only participants who declared having been aware of the change (n=210). The analyses revealed that surprise had an impact on perceived congruency: the more participants were negatively surprised by the change, the more they perceived the old logo congruent with the brand (B=-.23, p=.02); the more participants were positively surprised by the change, the more they perceived the new logo congruent with the brand (B=.69, p.001).
Moreover, the impact of surprise was not explained by the resistance to change, p.05, but by brand attachment and familiarity, p.05 for both. Finally, overall, entrants were more positively surprised by the change (m=4.46) than current students (m=4.02), F(1, 210)=4.10, p.05.
The analyses of the logo preference, as the choice of a polo shirt with the new or the old logo, showed that overall the polo shirt with the old logo was more frequently chosen, but even more frequently by entrants (84%) than by current students (73%), p.05. When participants knew the school had changed its logo, they mostly chose the polo shirt with the old logo (81%), p.05, while when they did not know about it they equally chose the 2 polo shirts, p.05.
This choice was not explained by resistance to change, attachment, familiarity or perceived congruency, but better by implicit measures. Indeed, the analysis of the reaction times to words after having been primed by the old or the new logo revealed that when entrants chose the polo shirt with the new logo, the new logo was significantly more associated with “future” (RT=591 ms) and “strict” (RT=584 ms), whereas when current students chose the polo shirt with the new logo, it was more associated with “future” (TR=621 ms) and less associated with “originality” (RT=650 ms).
Figure 2. Reaction times of participants who chose the polo shirt with the new logo or the one with the old logo to “Future”, “Originality” and “Strict” after having been primed by the new logo.
Theoretical and practical implications Taken together, our results revealed that brand attachment and familiarity affected perceived congruency between the brand logo and the brand itself. Indeed, entrants, i.e. new customers, less attached to the brand, also perceived the old logo as less congruent, which certainly leads them to better accept the logo change. Surprisingly, resistance to change did not play any role in the perception of congruency of the new brand logo, but surprise did. To accept this change, through a higher perceived congruency between the logo and the brand, any surprise effect should be pleasant. An unpleasant surprise effect may lead to a rejection of the new logo, because it will be perceived as less congruent with the brand. Otherwise, a careful preparation of customers should be planned, through communication for example, in order to avoid any surprise. More precisely, the more the customers are attached to the brand, the most careful brand managers have to be regarding creating a surprise effect, since our results showed that existing customers, i.e. current students, were overall less positively surprised than new customers (entrants). Pre-existing representations of visuals associated with the brand may serve as a reference. Thus, brand managers should monitor surprise, either by avoiding it or by creating positive surprise. Using positive surprise during a process of logo change could have a positive impact on consumers’ perception.
The fact customers more often chose the product with the old logo could also come from a non-preference: they chose the old logo to avoid taking the new one which contains something that does not suit them.
The declarative measures did not well predict the logo preference, i.e. the final choice of the branded polo shirt, whereas implicit measures, did better, both for existing and new customers. These results are consistent with findings in consumer research similarly demonstrating poor or no correlations between explicit and implicit evaluations or attitudes (see Dimofte, 2010), or behavior (Werle and Cuny, 2012). In the present study, implicit test better explained the final preference of customers, consistent with a previous study in a food context (Werle and Cuny, 2012), certainly because elaboration and thinking, underlying explicit testing, is never present or used within the process of choosing a preferred product.
Marketing researchers would benefit from using these methodologies to investigate the impact of various variables on consumer behavior.
Limitations and further research Automatic emotional reactions to logos could be chosen as a theoretical framework to better understand the process behind the choice of a branded product in a context of rebranding.
Future research could furthermore be realized with companies’ brands as it is possible that the level of attachment is different between attachment to a school brand and attachment to companies’ brands.
Originality of the paper The originality of the research lies in the fact that it investigated logo change and its impact on customers’ brand image and preference in a real context of logo change, through explicit, implicit and behavioral measurements.
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Philosophy by design: Explicating the creative legacies of Ogilvy, Bernbach and Burnett in contemporary (critical) branding thought El-Amir, Ayman Purpose As the field of advertising broadens its managerial scope from communicating to integrating the branding process (Schultz et al., 1994; O’Guinn et al., 2006; Moriarty et al., 2012), its central process of creativity has shifted orientation from the classic-artistic to the progressive- scientific practice that renders the former’s evolution as a ‘historical background’ from which it progressed, falling into the managerial trap of “bias towards progress” (Vink, 1992, p.220; Reid et al., 1998; Ashley & Oliver, 2010). The progressivescientific orientation’s concern with efficiency and technological developments threatens to streamline and, eventually, de-humanize the process of brand creativity/design (Reid et al., 1998; Ashley & Oliver, 2010; Holt & Cameron, 2010), which this paper aims to rescue. By adopting a historical perspective (Vink, 1992; Tadajewski & Brian-Jones, 2014), it will critically interrogate the intellectual heritage of creative brand design embodied in the classic-artistic practices/legacies of the revolutionary advertisements of Ogilvy, Bernbach and Burnett; the key figures of the creative revolution of American advertising in the 1950/60’s (Fox, 1984), so as to explicate the capability of critical thought in creative brand design to transform critical ideology, in an increasingly progressive managerial environment, into authentic and effective ‘big ideas’ capable to enrich and imbue brands with sophisticated, compelling and relevant meanings (Reid et al., 1998; Ashley & Oliver, 2010; Holt & Cameron, 2010).
Method To achieve its goal, this paper utilizes an inductive (archeological-like) theory-building method of historical research in marketing, which, according to Vink (1992), enables us to closely interrogate -- through the simultaneous deconstruction and cross-examination of evidence-- the contents of the professional and intellectual artifacts/work (ads/package/poster designs, autobiographies, articles, and speeches) by and/or on Ogilvy, Bernbach and Burnett to explicate their mental maps, which are seldom expressed in their work beyond immediate observation/reflection, whereby they navigated the managerial challenges of their time. The concepts developed from these maps will establish the links (similarities and differences) between their managerial theories-in-action and those underpinning contemporary branding thought so as to, ultimately, guide the transformation of critical ideology into authentic and effective (big-idea) brand designs.
Findings Despite being decades apart, the ideological concerns of the creative advertising revolutionaries commensurate with those of contemporary critical branding theory in their opposition to the progressive-scientific (psycho-economic) (Keller, 2008; De Chernatony,