What do Ikea, Nestlé, Tiffany, Burberry, L’Oreal or Adidas have in common? They all share linguistically feminine names according to a recent study. Via its length, its sound, and its stress, a brand name can trigger either female or male associations. Linguistically female brands seem to be longer and tend to end with a vowel (e.g., Nestlé), not with a consonant (e.g., Gap).
Various experiments, both in fictitious and real-life situations, showed that the linguistic gender of a brand name can also influence brand-related outcomes like attitudes, choice, and performance. Some key findings of the study:
- Top performing global brands according to the Interbrand ranking (2000-2009) more often feature feminine than masculine names.
- Female brand names trigger associations of warmth which lead to positive attitudes and increased choice towards a brand in choice situations.
- Feminine brand names are preferred by both men and women for products that are used by both genders (e.g., chocolate). The female brand advantage, however, gets neutralized when the brand is typically used by male consumers (e.g., after-shave).
- Linguistically female brand names produced more positive attitudes in hedonic product categories (e.g.: chocolate) than utilitarian ones (e.g., bathroom cleaners).
What’s in it for managers? Feminine brand names are a strategic asset, especially for hedonic products. Consumers react instinctively and positively to such subtle brand cues. Managers should take these effects into consideration when launching new brands or when moving brands into new geographic areas.
Source: Pogacar, R., Angle, J., Lowrey, T. M., Shrum, L. J., & Kardes, F. R. (2021). Is Nestlé a Lady? The Feminine Brand Name Advantage. Journal of Marketing.