FEATURE31 May 2017

The Logo Effect

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Features Impact Media North America Trends

US – A study from the US suggests that exposure to ‘ethnic’ logos strengthens negative stereotypes of the ethnicities depicted, but only among those who identify as politically liberal. By Bronwen Morgan


Brand characters – like Ronald McDonald, Mr Muscle and the Michelin man – have long been used to give brands personality, to make them more memorable, and as a way of associating them with desired qualities. 

Research has shown this to be an effective approach; exposure to brands triggers non-conscious brand-consistent behaviours – both positive and negative – and this is particularly strong for anthropomorphised brands. 

But the use of ‘ethnic caricatures’ – such as the Dolmio family, Uncle Ben, and Aunt Jemima in the US – is more contentious. There has been a suggestion – though little empirical evidence – that ethnic brand imagery can perpetuate negative stereotypes. A recent US study looked into this issue and probed the conditions under which this type of brand imagery can strengthen either positive or negative implicit stereotypes. 

The study’s authors also investigated to what extent political identity could affect this response – in particular the ...