Do Brand Names in a Foreign Language Lead to Different Brand Perceptions?

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Journal of Marketing Management Vol. 26, Nos. 11–12, October 2010, 1037–1056

Do brand names in a foreign language lead to different brand perceptions? Laura Salciuviene, Lancaster University, UK Pervez N. Ghauri, Kings College London, UK Ruth Salomea Streder, Lewis-Global Public Relations, UK Claudio De Mattos, Manchester Business School, UK Abstract This study examines the effects of brand names in a foreign language, country of origin, and the incongruence between the two on brand perceptions of services. Employing congruity and categorisation theory as a theoretical foundation, this study empirically tests a number of hypotheses. The findings suggest that services with a French brand name are perceived as more hedonic. In the context of hedonic services, the incongruence between brand names in a foreign language and country of origin leads to increased perceptions of services as more hedonic. In the context of utilitarian services, the same incongruence leads to higher perceived suitability and preference for brand names in a foreign language. The paper concludes with research and managerial implications for brand managers and further research directions. Keywords brand names in foreign languages; hedonic/utilitarian brand perceptions; brand name suitability; brand name preferences; services industry

Introduction
Prior research in the domain of brand management suggests that brand names are key indicators of the products that have become an imperative asset that influences consumer brand perceptions in today’s highly competitive environment (Ailawadi & Keller, 2004). Brand names simplify consumer choices by helping them to recognise products more easily (Friedman, 1985). Well-chosen brand names contribute to the strength of the product. Brand names that are associated with positive attributes score higher on overall liking (Kohli & Harich, 2005). Moreover, sounds (phonetic structure) of brand names may affect consumer attitudes (Yorkston & Menon, 2004). Although companies tend to use ‘brand names that suggest language origins different from the brands’ true country-of-origin’ (Samiee, Shimp, & Sharma 2005, p. 391), evidence of consumer preferences for foreign brand names is limited and ‘the literature on branding in an international context is somewhat sparse’ (Alashban, Hayes, Zinkhan, & Balazs, 2002, p. 38). Country of origin is another important concept in international marketing that has been documented to affect consumer perceptions (e.g. Lotz & Hu, 2001; for a good ISSN 0267-257X print/ISSN 1472-1376 online # 2010 Westburn Publishers Ltd. DOI: 10.1080/0267257X.2010.508976 http://www.informaworld.com

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overview, see Balabinis & Diamontopoulos, 2008; Bhaskaran & Sukumaran, 2007; Leonidou, Palihawadana, & Talias, 2007; Usunier, 1994, 2006) and has connotations with foreign brand names (Kinra, 2006). The extant literature on country-of-origin effects suggests that, due to the rise in multinational production, international companies are increasingly paying less attention to the importance of country of origin as a source of competitive advantage and as a driver of customer preferences (Baker & Ballington, 2002; Jo, Nakamoto, & Nelson, 2003; Kinra, 2006). Yet, this area remains important for both academics and practitioners for reasons related to consumer preferences for brands in relation to country of origin and international marketing gaps in existing knowledge (Balabanis & Diamantopoulos, 2008; Samiee et al., 2005; Schuiling & Kapferer, 2004; Steenkamp, Batra, & Alden, 2003). Thus calls have been made that ‘further examination is required of the relationship between brand management and country-of-origin’ (Dinnie, 2004, p. 199). This study, a response to previous literature, increases our understanding of the effectiveness of brand names in a foreign language and incongruence with country of origin to generate preferred perceptions. By combining the...
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