ANALYZING BRAND NAMES IN BILINGUAL ADS: DOES LANGUAGE MATTER? Prem N. Shamdasani, National University of Singapore May O. Lwin, National University of Singapore Corliss Green, Georgia State University Jerome D. Williams, University of Texas at Austin Abstract We examine the effectiveness of two brand-naming strategies, the standardized international English brand names versus their localized or translated Chinese brand names, on bilingual consumers’ evaluation of the advertisement and the brand. The findings reveal that the effectiveness of each type of brand name generally depends on the language medium. Introduction With the increase in exporting of brands into Asia, the role of global advertising has increased in importance. With the aim being to add value to global products, international marketers need to consider the many aspects of culture and linguistic issues and tailor communication strategies accordingly to maximize effectiveness. An important component of global advertising is brand naming of products. International brand-naming strategy is a frequent and critical decision that marketers have to make. Marketers can adopt the existing brand name (standardization), or partially adapt the present brand name to one that is more appropriate in a given context (localization) (McDonald and Roberts, 1990). For example, Nike and Sony standardized the use of their brand name in different markets while Coca-Cola localized their brand name as “ko-kou- ko-ke” which loosely translates as “happiness in the mouth”. Brand names are important because they create a differentiated image (Schmitt and Pan, 1994) and act as cues to aid identification of product, recall of product information, and evaluation of product quality (Rigaux-Bricmont, 1981). Brand naming decisions become even more important and complex when foreign companies market their products and services in Asia. This is because Asia remains an enigma to many Westerners (Hatfield, 1997). Therefore, to successfully marry a brand name with a particular product is far from easy. When Western products are marketed in Asia, brand names are one of the elements that are most likely to be standardized (Mueller, 1990). The standardization of brand names often lies in the benefit of promoting uniform recognition of the products between national markets (McDonald and Roberts, 1990). In particular, foreign (especially English) brand names for products are commonly found in advertisements throughout Asia (Cutler et al., 1995; Neelankavil, Mummalaneni, and Sessions, 1994). One reason often cited for this practice is that the use of words from a prestige language tends to enhance an advertisement (Cutler et al., 1995; Ray et al., 1991). As an alternative to standardized brand names, international marketers can also develop localized brand names, by adapting the existing standardized brand names or creating new ones. There are several advantages associated with using localized brand names. Past research indicates that the way a brand name is written, and the way it is perceived by consumers are found to be significant predictors of brand attitudes (Pan and Schmitt, 1995). However, if a chosen name in one market does not transfer well to another market, companies may adopt a different brand name for each market, which may in turn be dysfunctional to their image as a global company. In addition to the branding decision, international marketers also need to consider the language medium in which to advertise. For example, marketing communications aimed at bilingual Chinese consumers can utilize either an English or a Chinese promotional vehicle (which can be print or broadcast). As languages have varying degrees of prestige (Ray et al., 1991), it is necessary to examine the medium’s impact on brand names and advertisements. The basic objectives of this research are to explore the effects of English and Chinese brand names on bilingual Chinese consumers’ attitudes toward advertisements. Singapore is chosen as the country of study, as it has attained high literacy levels in both English and Mandarin at 75 percent and 61 percent respectively. Moreover, English and Mandarin are the languages most understood by Singaporeans, with 80 percent of the population understanding English and 75 percent understanding Mandarin. Hypotheses Past research has shown that the choice of language representing the brand name leads to different responses by consumers (Harris et al., 1994; Leclerc et al., 1989). The use of foreign brand names from a prestige language tends to enhance the product’s appeal (Burton, 1983). For example, stereotypes about American culture are related to a consumer society and the lifestyle of the young (Kahane, 1982); therefore, the use of English brand names for products can thus suggest to the buyer that he or she is more cosmopolitan (Ray et al., 1991). Thus, it is believed that foreign branding would convey certain positive characteristics to Chinese Singaporeans and the first set of hypotheses proposes: H1a: Amongst Chinese bilingual Singaporeans, the use of an English brand name will produce a more favorable attitude toward the product (Apdt) as compared to the use of a Chinese brand name. H1b: Amongst Chinese bilingual Singaporeans, the use of an English brand name will produce a more favorable attitude toward the advertisement (Aad) as compared to the use of a Chinese brand name. In addition to the consideration of language choice to represent the brand name, international marketers also need to decide on the most effective language medium in which to communicate their commercial messages (i.e., via Chinese or English language medium). According to the schema (in)congruity effect theorized by Mandler (1982), the process of responding to a condition of moderate incongruity will result in more favorable responses than the conditions of congruity or extreme incongruity. As such, the use of mixed-language advertisements (CbEa and/or EbCa) should result in more favorable responses than the use of one-language advertisements (EbEa and/or CbCa). Therefore, the next set of hypotheses states: H2a: Amongst bilingual Chinese Singaporeans, the use of an English brand name in a Chinese advertisement (mixed-language condition) will produce a more favorable attitude toward the product (Apdt) as compared to the use of a Chinese brand name in a Chinese advertisement (one- language condition). H2b: Amongst bilingual Chinese Singaporeans, the use of an English brand name in a Chinese advertisement (mixed-language condition) will produce a more favorable attitude toward the advertisement (Aad) as compared to the use of a Chinese brand name in a Chinese advertisement (one-language condition). The works of Burton (1983), Cutler et al. (1995), Neelankavil et al. (1994), and Ray et al. (1991) provide empirical support for the effectiveness of using foreign words (including brand names) as a result of the superiority of the language. The argument follows that since Mandarin is the lingua franca of the bilingual local Chinese, and English is deemed a superior language, the use of an English brand name in a Chinese advertisement would result in more favorable attitudinal responses. Similarly, in the context of an English advertisement, it leads to the proposition that the use of an English brand name will be more effective than the utilization of a Chinese brand name. As such, the following hypotheses postulate: H3a: Amongst bilingual Chinese Singaporeans, the use of an English brand name in an English advertisement (one-language condition) will produce a more favorable attitude toward the product (Apdt) as compared to the use of a Chinese brand name in an English advertisement (mixed-language condition). H3b: Amongst bilingual Chinese Singaporeans, the use of an English brand name in an English advertisement (one-language condition) will produce a more favorable attitude toward the advertisement (Aad) as compared to the use of a Chinese brand name in an English advertisement (mixed-language condition). Methodology An experiment using self-administered questionnaires was used to investigate the effectiveness of Chinese as opposed to English brand names, which forms the primary objective of this study. The experiment employed a 2 x 2 (choice of language representing the brand name x language medium in which the advertisement is presented) between-subjects factorial design. To test for main as well as interaction effects, ANOVAs were conducted on the Apdt and Aad (feeling) and Aad (cognitive) measures. The independent variables are choice of language for the brand name (B), and the language medium in which the advertisement is presented (A). Results H1a hypothesized that bilingual respondents will have a more favorable attitude toward a product with an English brand name than a product bearing a Chinese brand name. Based on the means of English and Chinese brand names for Apdt, this was true only in the Chinese advertisement and not for the English advertisement (e.g., xEbCa = 6.78, xCbCa = 2.38, p = 0.000). Therefore H1a is supported. H1b predicted the same for attitudes towards the advertisement. Examination of the means of Aad (feeling) indicates that an English brand name is rated considerably more favorably than a Chinese brand name in Chinese advertisements (e.g., xEbCa = 6.91, xCbCa = 2.30, p = 0.000). Contrary to expectations, this was not the case in English advertisements (e.g., xEbEa = 4.86, xCbEa = 6.91, p = 0.000). However, for Aad (cognitive) means, the opposite effect was observed. The preference for an English brand name over a Chinese counterpart in this case was in same-medium advertisement (e.g., xEbEa = 5.51, xCbEa = 3.95). Therefore, H1b is partially supported, with the English brand in English advertisement, and Chinese brand in Chinese advertisement, appealing to the cognitive rather than the feeling aspects of brand preference. As for the cross-language situation of English brands in Chinese advertisements and vice versa, there appears to be stronger feeling as opposed to cognitive appeal. Hypotheses H2a and H2b stated that an English brand name will be rated as being more superior than a Chinese brand name in the context of a Chinese advertisement. This was proven to be true for Apdt ( e.g., xEbCa = 6.78, xCbCa = 2.38, p = 0.000) and for Aad (feeling) (e.g., xEbCa = 6.91, xCbCa = 2.30, p = 0.000). However, an English brand name in a Chinese advertisement is rated less favorably than a Chinese brand name for Aad (cognitive) (e.g., xEbCa = 3.95, xCbCa = 4.41, p = 0.000). Thus, Hypotheses H2a is supported and Hypotheses H2b is supported for Aad (feeling), but not for Aad (cognitive). Hypotheses H3a and H3b focus on attitudes toward an English brand name and its Chinese counterpart in the context of an English advertisement. In the case of Hypothesis H3a, an English brand name in an English advertisement receives less favorable attitudinal scores than a Chinese brand name appearing in an English advertisement (e.g., xEbEa = 4.99,xCbEa = 6.78, p = 0.006). Thus H3a is not supported. As for H3b, similar results of the Chinese brand receiving higher ratings are seen for Aad (feeling), but not for Aad (cognitive). In the English advertisement, Chinese brand scores are higher than the English brand’s (e.g., xCbEa = 6.91,xEbEa = 4.86, p = 0.000) for Aad (feeling). On the other hand, for Aad (cognitive), results shows that in the English advertisement, the English brand is preferred to the Chinese brand (e.g., xCbEa = 3.95,xEbEa = 5.51, p = 0.000). Therefore H3b is supported for Aad (cognitive), but not for Aad (feeling). This again reinforces the finding that for same-language advertisements, the cognitive appeal seems higher than the feeling appeal. Conclusion This study attempts to advance understanding of the effectiveness of international brand-naming strategies (standardization or localization). Specifically, the effects on the language choice of brand names and the language medium of advertisement are investigated. The findings demonstrate significantly more positive attitude ratings for the use of a different brand name language (i.e., English brand in Chinese media and vice versa) on the attitude toward the product (Apdt) construct, and the feeling and cognitive dimensions of the attitude toward the ad (Aad) variables. Within the context of a Chinese advertisement the results show that the effectiveness of featuring an English brand name is greater than a Chinese brand name as measured by Apdt and Aad (feeling). The results are consistent with Mandler’s (1982) hypothesis that moderate incongruity (in this case, a dissimilar brand name-advertisement language context) as illustrated in the condition of a mixed-language advertisement, would lead to more favorable responses. However, the findings for the Aad (cognitive) construct are in the opposite direction. In other words, a mixed-language advertisement characterized by an English brand name in a Chinese advertisement does not positively affect consumer’s beliefs (cognitive evaluation) of the advertisement. In the context of an English advertisement, the use of an English brand name would lead to a less favorable attitudinal response than the use of a Chinese brand name. These results are unexpected, given the “prestige” of the English language. However, these findings are consistent with the (in)congruity effect proposed by Mandler (1982), since the mixed-language advertisement (a Chinese brand name in an English advertisement) does enhance advertising effectiveness for Apdt and Aad (feeling). Again, the findings for the Aad (cognitive) construct are in the opposite direction, with a mixed-language advertisement characterized by a Chinese brand name in an English advertisement being rated lower than the English brand on cognitive evaluation of the advertisement. In summary, these findings suggest the credibility of using both types of brand names, in a more effective language advertisement environment to achieve desired objectives. The results provide empirical support for the pervasive use of foreign product names in advertisements in Asia (Cutler et al., 1995; Mueller, 1992; Neelankavil et al., 1994). References Burton, Jack (1983), “Buy Any Other Name? Not in Japanese,” Advertising Age, February 7. Cutler, D. 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