Brand Equity Building For New Brands Via Appropriate Advertising Symbol Selection

ABSTRACT - Fast building of brand equity is desirable for new brands. A symbolic transfer device (STD) model is proposed for augmenting a new brand's equity. The STD is based on visual imagery and arousal but also has denotative and connotative properties that convey the desired positioning of the brand. Advertising tactics are suggested for accelerating the process.


John R. Rossiter and Lawrence Ang (1993) ,"Brand Equity Building For New Brands Via Appropriate Advertising Symbol Selection", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 1, eds. W. Fred Van Raaij and Gary J. Bamossy, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 125-132.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 1, 1993      Pages 125-132


John R. Rossiter, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Lawrence Ang, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

[The preparation of this article benefitted from an Australian Research Council grant to the first author.]


Fast building of brand equity is desirable for new brands. A symbolic transfer device (STD) model is proposed for augmenting a new brand's equity. The STD is based on visual imagery and arousal but also has denotative and connotative properties that convey the desired positioning of the brand. Advertising tactics are suggested for accelerating the process.

Building equity "from scratch" for a new brand is a difficult and largely unaddressed problem in marketing. We know reasonably well how to measure brand equity (e.g., Winters 1991); we are learning how to extend brand equity (e.g., Aaker and Keller 1990); and we have copious advice on how to manage brand equity once it is established (e.g., Farquhar 1989; Aaker 1991). However, we know little about how to create or build brand equity in the first place. The theoretical and applied research question is: how can a new brand in particular, or perhaps a low-equity established brand, build brand equity fast?

We chose the word "fast" deliberately. In the immensely cluttered and competitive world of new brand introductions, the requirements of being able to build brand equity quickly (to seek pioneer advantage) and relatively permanently (for leveraging brand equity to product extensions) are obvious. Notable illustrations of brands that successfully built equity quickly and built it strongly enough to allow extensions would be Apple in computers and Healthy Choice in food products.

The purpose of this paper is to propose a theoretical model for fast building of brand equity for new brands. As noted, the model could perhaps be applied also to the re-staging of older, low-equity brandsCactually "neutral-equity" brands since "negative" equity may be almost impossible to overcome. For simplicity, however, we will refer hereafter only to the context of new brand introduction. The model consists of: (1) a symbolic transfer device (STD) as the means of augmenting the brand's desired equity-attributes, and (2) advertising tactics for associating the STD with the brand and accelerating the equity-building process. The principal contribution of this model, which we will call the STD model, is that it specifies the mediating mechanisms that we believe are necessary for brand equity building. Dave Aaker's excellent book on managing brand equity (1991) provides valuable clues as to what should be done but falls short in specifying mediational processes. A second contribution is that the STD model's concepts clearly indicate appropriate measures and also point to advertising tactics, both of which should assist in its implementation.

The paper addresses the following four topics:

1. Properties possessed by high-equity brands.

2. Symbolic transfer device (STD) definition and functions

3. STD mediators and measures

4. Advertising tactics for accelerating STD effectiveness

It should also be mentioned that one of the sources for the model is an expert system being developed by the authors. For proprietary reasons, we cannot provide full details of the measures taken from this source.


To help understand how to create brand equity, it is useful to identify the end result. What properties do high-equity brands possess? Several authors have attempted to identify the most important characteristics of high-equity brands (for instance: Aaker 1991; Landor Associates, cited in Winters 1991; and Moran 1990). The properties that our theory relies on most closely are those identified by Biel (1990). The three essential properties of high-equity brands are translated from Biel's ideas and extended into accompanying propositions as follows:

(a) brand awareness (distinctive and salient)

(b) brand imagery (vivid and attribute-like or globally favorable)

(c) brand attitude (preferential: high value and low substitutability)

These properties, and their parenthesized propositions, are explained next.

Brand Awareness

High-equity brands have very high brand awareness. For instance, Landor Associates uses, as one of its two measures for rating a brand's equity, the brand's "share of mind" or how well it is known. In 1990, worldwide, Coca-Cola ranked 1st on "share of mind" and Pepsi Cola ranked 3rd. Rossiter and Percy (1983; 1987; Rossiter, Percy and Donovan 1991) have long argued for the primacy of brand awareness as a communication effect and this is reinforced by Aaker (1991). Brand awareness, however, is not simply a matter of "share of mind." Rather, the consumer's choice process dictates whether the appropriate type of brand awareness is brand recognition or brand recall. Brand awareness is the consumer's ability to identify the brand as being a member of the product category. For brand recognition, what is needed is "distinctiveness," which is the consumer's ability to identify the brand from a competitive display as in a supermarket, and then the product category has to be recalled if it is not present in the consumer's mind prior to the brand recognition response. For brand recall, what is needed is "salience," which is the ability to recall the brand name in response to the product category (strictly, category need) cue.

Brand Imagery

High-equity brands also have very strong and consistent brand imagery. The notion of brand imagery in this context has been best defined by the famous agency founder and master copywriter Leo Burnett (1961), who was the leading advocate of "brand symbols" as the key to effective advertisements. Burnett defined a brand symbol as "anything that leaves a mental picture of the brand's identity" (p. 53). Burnett was almost certainly referring to visual imagery. The brand symbol's operation was stated by him, in paraphrase, as "What you see, other than the product, when you think of the brand." His definition, however, implies mainly a brand awareness (identification) function for brand imagery. In our theory, we have taken brand imagery as the central component of the model and extended its role to include not only brand awareness but also brand attitude augmentation. As will be explained in the subsequent section on mediators, the brand imagery should be vivid (Rossiter and Percy 1978; McGill and Anand 1989) and consistent and either attribute-like or globally favorable (Lynch, Marmorstein and Weigold 1988) depending on how consumers choose the brand.



Brand Attitude

High-equity brands, lastly, have a very preferential brand attitude toward them exhibited by consumers. For instance, Landor Associates' second measure of brand equity rating is "esteem" or how well the brand is regarded. That this is a separate factor from brand awareness is evidenced by the finding that Coca-Cola, the highest awareness brand worldwide, ranked only 6th on esteem and Pepsi Cola, the third-highest awareness brand, ranked a low 92nd. The highest-esteemed brand worldwide in 1990 was Sony. Again the commercial services' concepts such as brand esteem are somewhat superficial. Based on the insightful work of Moran (1978), we have developed a conceptualization of the attitudinal aspect of brand equity in terms of "high value" (benefits per dollar, not necessarily highest quality or esteem) and "low substitutability" (preferential uniqueness in that consumers are unwilling to accept alternative brands). These dual concepts are further explained in Rossiter and Percy (forthcoming) and we can provide no more than these definitions here.

We now describe the specific model proposed in this paper.


We define a symbolic transfer device (STD) as a very highly arousing and visual imagery-producing stimulus that serves both the brand awareness and brand attitude functions. These functions are shown in Figure 1.

Brand Awareness

To serve the brand awareness function, the STD should provide distinctive identification of the brand within the product category (for brand recognition) and also prompt the brand name (for brand recall). This is achieved through consumer attention to, and labeling of, the STD and through its capacity to generate intense arousalCmediators which are explained in the next section of the paper. Distinctive identification is a self-evident necessity for a successful STD. If the brand awareness type is brand recognition, then the appropriate measures of identification are brand (package or name) recognition and category recall (Rossiter and Percy 1987). Name-salience is a further necessity after identification if the product or service is chosen via brand recall. If the brand awareness process is brand recall, then the appropriate identification measure is brand recall in response to the product category need as a prompt or initiating cue.

Brand Attitude

As indicated in the Figure 1, the STD serves the brand attitude function by either suggesting a key differential attribute of the brand (especially for "informationally," negatively motivated product purchases) or a favorable overall evaluation (especially for "transformationally," positively motivated products). The negative and positive motivational distinction, loosely informational versus transformational, is further explained in Rossiter and Percy (1987) and also in Rossiter, Percy and Donovan (1991). Lynch et al. (1988), Chattopadhyay and Alba (1988) and Mazursky (1990) provide further illumination of the conditions in which a brand's preference depends on major attribute accessibility or on a favorable overall affective response. The distinction may also be conceptualized in terms of the now-standard multi-attribute model formulation whereby the key differential attribute is represented by BbiIi (or we could add BbiUbiIi to indicate differentiation or uniqueness) and the favorable overall evaluation is indicated by Ab (overall attitude towards the brand). As might be anticipated, the mediating processes for brand attitude are reasonably complex. Essentially they consist of a visual image and one or more associations or emotional fit depending on the required brand attitude function.

The mediators in the overall model require theoretical justification and we discuss them next.


The mediating concepts for the STD model are shown in operational detail in Figure 2. There are mediators for the brand awareness function and the brand attitude function served by the STD.

Brand Awareness Mediators

The postulated mediators of brand awareness are attention, labeling, and arousal. The STD must first draw attention. Further, since the marketer cannot rely on selective attention for the new brand, the STD must elicit reflexive attention (Rossiter and Percy 1987), meaning that stimulus contrast or change (cf. Weber's Law) is what initiates the attentional mediation process. Attention and arousal (see below) are sufficient for brand recognition but, since brand recall requires name prompting, the STD should elicit a "labeling" response that corresponds with the brand name. The archetypal "Marlboro men" over the years are good examples of STD's with the desired labeling responses. The Marlboro man is usually the focal point of advertisements for this brand and would elicit the naming response "Marlboro man," which identifies the brand and, via the labeling of "man" or "cowboy," suggests the attribute association of "masculine" or "macho." Pezdek and Evans (1979) review evidence showing that all except the most complex and novel pictorial stimuli are automatically assigned a verbal label once the consumer has passed early childhood. Kunen, Green and Waterman (1979) verify that distinctly presented words also elicit a verbal label (see additionally Paivio 1971 and Rossiter and Percy 1978). As will become evident in the next section, we advocate visual STD's, which could be either pictures or visually presented words. However, pictorial visual stimuli have lots of advantages over visually presented words as candidates for an STD. For instance, pictures are much more reliably likely to produce a visual image than are words (Paivio 1971; 1986); they are less polysemous (less ambiguous) than words and are therefore likely to lead to a more consistent identification response (Durso and Johnson 1979); they are virtually uniquely encoded and are much more resistant to memory loss via recognition or recall.

The other brand awareness mediator is arousal and, specifically, very high arousal. That arousal is a necessary mediator for the STD was shown in a recent study by Bradley, Greenwald, Petry and Lang (1992). In a series of experiments, these investigators demonstrated that stimuli rated as highly arousing are recognized faster (and thus the STD aids in brand recognition) and also are more likely to be free-recalled (and thus the STD relates to brand recall) than non-highly arousing stimuli. This effect was shown to be independent of the affective value (unpleasant or pleasant rating) of the stimulus, a factor that is important for the brand attitude function if the brand is chosen by overall evaluation. It seems that arousal has to be very high before memory enhancement occurs. Durgee (1988) observes, with some interesting examples, that marketers should try to focus on the "inherent drama" (another Leo Burnettism) in the product, which implies the search for a highly arousing stimulus. The long, thin salty french fries of McDonald's (arousing to children) or the fly-front of Levi's jeans (arousing to most women and perhaps to gay men, or to most men if Brook Shields is wearing them!) are illustrations of the almost anthropological analysis that is needed to identify these stimuli.

Brand Attitude Mediators

As shown in Figure 2, we postulate a two-stage mediating process for brand attitude. The sine qua non of a successful STD is its ability to produce a visual image. Associations to this image, in the form of denotative or connotative responses, are the second stage of mediation. The visual image should be vivid, which means as close as possible to an iconic representation of the original visual stimulus (Rossiter and Percy 1983) and, much more difficult to achieve, it should be as consistent as possible across consumers. Measures of self-rated imagery vividness are well known, but measures of imagery consistency have not been used in the consumer research literature. The present authors have developed some of these latter measures for their expert system. One measure available in the psychology literature is the information-based measure, H, proposed by Lachman (1973) which measures the degree to which people agree on the name (label) of the picture. Further, although we are referring here to attitude mediators, a consistent visual image and consistent verbal labels also aid in the mediation of for brand recognition and brand recall.

A denotative (descriptive meaning) response is then required to the visual image if brand preference is based on a key differentiating attribute (BbiUbiIi). As noted in the figure, the STD's image should convey the impression of key attribute dominance by the brand. The attribute itself, or a close paraphrase or representation of it, must therefore be elicited during the denotative response. An advisable measure prior to elicitation, however, is an international thesaurus or dictionary check. This has become very important with the trend towards global brands to avoid problems such as experienced by Chevrolet's Nova, which in Spanish meant "no go." A national thesaurus check would be advisable also to guard against unwanted associations that may initially be remote but, if raised by consumers, could damage the brand's image (Aaker 1991). These checks completed, the most direct mediational measure would be word association, as in Noble's m measure which records the number of associations to a stimulus in a short time period (Noble 1952). Kanungo and Dutta (1966) have shown that brand names with high m values are more recallable although the present concern is with the content of the associations since this is the mediator for brand attributes. Content analysis of the associations is therefore an additionally required measure. The key attribute should obviously be an early association; in other words, the key attribute should be readily "accessible" from memory (Shavitt and Fazio 1990) when the STD appears. Apple's name and symbol [_] suggest, for instance, that its computers are a pleasant everyday object which is bitable (a nice play on byte) and hence (the key attribute) user-friendly.



If the brand is known to be chosen mainly by an overall attitudinal evaluation rather than by a specific attribute, then connotative (emotional meaning) responses are the required mediator from the visual image. The standard measure of emotional meaning responses is Osgood's semantic differential (Osgood 1952; Osgood, Suci and Tannenbaum 1957) with its universal dimensions of evaluation, potency, and activity. The latter two dimensions are determinants of arousal, which we postulated earlier as a brand awareness mediator, although here they are serving a brand attitude function. Mehrabian's (1980) pleasure-arousal-dominance (P-A-D) instrument is a later adaptation of Osgood's E-P-A instrument that recognizes the arousal factor. In an interesting experiment, Mehrabian and de Wetter (1987) demonstrated that hypothetical brand names (a type of STD) whose connotative P-A-D profiles best fitted the emotional P-A-D state that consumers imagined themselves to be in when using the product class produced a more favorable attitude toward the hypothetical new brand. (That most brands do have semantic "personalities" to which an STD can be fitted is shown in an interesting study by Alt and Griggs 1988). The desired result of the connotative meaning mediator is a semantic profile fit with the brand's intended "image" but our theory allows that simple positive affect (high E on the E-P-A profile or high P on the P-A-D profile) may be sufficient for low involvement, transformational brands (Rossiter and Percy 1987).



Some brands may try to use STD's to cover both types of brand attitude, perhaps for strategically different target audiences. An apparent example would be Budweiser's two "equity symbols": the Clydesdales (suggesting strength and tradition) and Spudz McKenzie (presumably suggesting lightness and fun). These two STD's may reflect a BbiUbiIi emphasis and an Ab emphasis, respectively. Alternatively, a key attribute STD may have some effect on the evaluative mediator as well. Shocker (1991) observes that the STD may capture "residual evaluation" remaining after attributes have been considered, that is, Ab-_BbiIi.

Overall Process

Finally, we need to specify how the STD is employed for the brand such that eventually, and quite quickly, the brand itself will acquire the "equity" (manifest in terms of brand awareness, brand image, and brand attitude) designed for it. The brand awareness mediation is assumed to occur by S-S contiguity (paired-associates) learning under the condition of high arousal. The initial (first-stage) mediational process for brand attitude via an STD is hypothesized to take place via classical conditioning (Figure 3). We prefer the more parsimonious learning theory account of this process via imagery (Leuba 1940; Mowrer 1960; Bugelski 1979) but those who prefer a more contemporary if less quantifiable and predictive account could substitute the associative network theory proposed by, for instance, Anderson and Bower (1973) or a more recent version thereof. For second-stage mediation of brand attitude, and here it may be helpful to refer to Figure 2 earlier, we postulate verbal and visual "propositional" reinforcement (Rossiter and Percy 1978; 1983) but have not detailed this process here.


Aaker (1991) provides an excellent analysis of three of the main candidates for an STD: a name, a symbol, or a slogan. To this we would add a fourthCan advertising style using one or several "key visuals." We recommend an advertised visual brand symbol as being the most widely effective and fastest way of building equity for a new brand. The candidates are reviewed below.


Choice of name for a new brand is of course vital from an equity standpoint. We will not attempt to improve on Aaker's extensive review of brand name selection. If, however, the reader accepts our previously mentioned dual-concept definition of equity in terms of value and low substitutability, then the latter requirement points to an evident limitation of names as STD'sCnamely, imitation. For instance, the Healthy Choice name is an ideal STD for conveying value and key attribute positioning but has been readily imitated by Campbell's Healthy Request and Tyson's Healthy Portion, to name just two damaging me-too's. Further, the reality is that the name for the new brand has probably already been chosen, so that most often the task is to build equity by other means.


Slogans are widely-used candidates for an STD. It could be argued that the best slogans are those that employ concrete words which generate visual imagery, particularly imagery that associates the brand with one or more brand image attributes as intended in the brand's positioning; see Rossiter and Percy (1978; 1980; 1983). As noted in Rossiter and Percy (1987), an effective slogan (which may be a jingle, a slogan set to music) must be careful to associate the brand with the category need and also mention or indirectly convey a target attribute (for instance, "You deserve a break today... at McDonald's... We do it all for you"). The disadvantages of slogans are theoretical and practical. One theoretical disadvantage is that slogans consist of words, and most words have lower concreteness (and thus lower visual imagery potential) than pictures. Another is that words often have multiple meanings (polysemy) that could confuse the STD's intent. Also, words, being less distinctly encodable than pictures, are far more subject to verbal learning interference than are pictures; for instance, slogans are notoriously poor as prompts for brand recall (Aaker 1991). The practical disadvantage is that slogans are frequently subject to change. The consistency of an STD based on a slogan is therefore almost constantly under threat.

Ad Style (Key Visuals)

A particular style of visual advertisingCin print ads or TV commercialsCcan be used as the STD. Print ads, if we include direct mail, now comprise about 60 percent of all advertising. Print adsCthrough the use of a "key visual" as the illustrationCprovide a good opportunity for an STD. Brand symbols can be easily reproduced in print ads and can gain more focal attention than in TV commercials. Kroeber-Riel (1988) provides an innovative analysis of the use of (what we would call) an STD based on style of print ads. His analysis refers to the two functions of key visuals in print ads as "actualization" (branding) and "emotional positioning" (very much like our semantic profile matching process). An aggressive and tough-looking black bull instituted as the key visual for Fulda tyres is an especially good example of the latter function. A recent and notable example of the use of a set of key illustrations as the STD is Benetton's "shocking" style of print and outdoor advertising. This ad style is clearly identified with the Benetton brand; with all the complaints the campaign has engendered, no other brand seems ready to imitate it! The company's stated brand attitude strategy is to show Benetton's concern with social issues (AIDS, the Mafia, boat people) but the more likely strategy is to convey a "contemporary" semantic profile. Along with the brouhaha, the Benetton campaign has been associated with a 24 percent increase in profit.

Print and outdoor ad style would be our specific second choice for an STD. Theoretically the right mediators are achievable. The main practical concern is with the speed of broad reach of the campaign which is somewhat slower for print ads than for TV commercials. Newspapers can supply fast and broad print reach but most new brand STD's would require costly color ads or color inserts for maximum effectiveness. Another practical concern is the possibility of campaign change although informal observation suggests that print campaigns for many brands tend to be reasonably enduring.

A unique and consistent style of TV commercials constitutes another STD possibility. An example might be the distinctive, on-going soapbox drama style of TV commercials used currently by Taster's Choice instant coffee in Britain and the USA. However, we advise against the use of TV commercial style as the STD, again for theoretical and practical reasons. The main theoretical problem is that rapidly-presented pictures, as in the video of a TV commercial, are less memorable than still pictures (Potter and Levy 1969) and therefore the likelihood of producing a TV commercial that can generate a single, consistent visual image, as required for an STD in our theory, is low. This is not to deny the powerful role of TV commercials in building brand awareness and brand attitude but rather to question their theoretical adequacy for providing a unique brand image in the sense required for an STD. Practically, like slogans, TV advertising campaigns are very likely to be changed over the longer-term life cycle of the brand. Thus, the equity value that may be built by a distinctive early campaign may be sacrificed or diverted by later campaigns implemented for strategic or other purposes.

Brand Symbol

Brand symbols can meet all of the criteria for a successful symbolic transfer device (STD). A brand symbol can uniquely identify the brand, both visually for brand recognition, and verbally for brand recall if the symbol is automatically labeled by consumers (for instance, the Target symbol) or if the brand name is included "interactively" as part of the symbol (for instance, the IBM logo). Being visual, a brand symbol is likely to result in an iconic visual image. If this image is carefully chosen, it can denotatively suggest an attribute or connotatively suggest a desired semantic profile or produce positive affect.

Leo Burnett was the master of brand symbols. Famous Burnett symbols include: the Green Giant, and later Little Sprout; the Pillsbury Doughboy; and Campbell's Red and White "script logo." Proof that these symbols work visuallyCby feature recognitionCrather than semantically by suggesting words, comes from an experiment conducted in the early 1950's by Campbell's, reported in Burnett's book. Campbell's ran an in-store sales test of its soup with two variations of its famous soup label. In one variation, the word "Campbell's" was written using the same script as always but in green and white letters. People avoided buying this "new" soup entirely. In the second condition, the nonsense word "Gongdote," which superficially (in features) resembles the vowels and consonants in the word "Campbell's," was printed on the can in the Campbell's red and white script; this variation, a nonsense word with the same visual features as the standard label, produced the same sales as usual!

Creation or selection of an effective STD is very difficult because of the two functions (brand awareness and brand attitude) it must serve and the associated mediational processes it must achieve. The task is somewhat easier if the brand has only one type of brand awareness and one type of brand attitude, as would be indicated by following a single upper arrow and a single lower arrow path in Figure 1 (earlier). Creation or selection of an STD is the first and most difficult step for building new brand equity but, once found, the symbolic transfer process can be accelerated by advertising tactics. Thus we recommend an advertised visual brand symbol as the STD. The final section of the paper proposes some appropriate advertising tactics.


A number of advertising tactics can be suggested to accelerate the effectiveness of the STD in fast building of brand equity. These include: association by forward conditioning; awarding focal attention to the STD; consistency of STD representation; and dominant share-of-voice but flighted media spending.

Association By Forward Conditioning

Wherever possible, a forward conditioning process is recommended (Stuart, Shimp and Engle 1987). This means presenting the brand name or package (as the to-be-conditioned stimulus or CS) followed by the STD (as the unconditioned stimulus or US) in print or video components of the advertising or in the slogan if this is being used as the STD. In TV advertising, this can be achieved by showing or mentioning the brand early in the commercial before the STD is introduced. In print advertising, it can be implemented by placing the brand name or package in such a position that it draws attention before (or at least virtually simultaneously with) the STD. A related, effective device would be to use interactive imagery (Bower 1970; Lutz and Lutz 1977) in print ads or in TV commercial "supers" as "signoff" logos. Whereas it has been shown that in classical conditioning with humans the temporal contiguity of the CS and the US is reasonably resilient to moderate dissociation in time, the important thing to avoid is extreme delayed or "trace" conditioning attempts. However, we must mention one exception to this that relies on the distinctly human capacities for curiosity and problem solving. In Australia, the Commonwealth Bank ran a highly effective "teaser" TV commercial whereby the question "Which bank?" was used as a prompt throughout the commercial and the bank's brand name was introduced only at the end of the commercial. After several "conditioning" trials, most consumers would mentally supply the brand name as soon as they saw or heard the "Which bank?" cue. Thus, if TV advertising is used as the STD and a "suspenseful" format is employed, it may be possible to induce trace conditioning effectively. Of course, it could be argued even in this case that on later exposures to the commercial, the consumer mentally supplies the brand name, on cue, early in the commercial, thereby effectively transforming the acquisition trial into a forward conditioning procedure.

Awarding Focal Attention to the STD

It is difficult for the consumer to generate a visual image to the STD if the STD stimulus is not held in focal attention for at least two seconds (Rossiter 1982). Avons and Phillips (1980) show that recognition and recall of pictorial stimuli reach an asymptote when the stimulus is attended to for 2.6 seconds. This is a long time for a print (or outdoor) ad to hold the viewer's attention given that the illustration in a typical print ad takes only 0.7 seconds to process (Kroeber-Riel 1988). Therefore, an interesting and arousing illustration is required. In TV commercials, attention holding may be somewhat easier because of the passive nature of the viewer (Krugman 1967-67; Rossiter and Percy 1987). Young and Robinson (1992) have shown that viewer retention (subsequent recognition) of "peak" scenes in successful (persuasive) TV commercials is very high. However, as advertising agencies would know, generating peak scenes in the first place is difficult and this attests to the rarity of effective STD's in TV commercials.

Consistency of STD Representation

The STD should be employed in a consistent manner in advertising to aid the consistency of the visual image formed. Keller's (1991) concept of "cue compatibility" at the point of purchase is also relevant here. However, it could be argued that too much consistency may lead to "tuning out" and that variations-on-a-theme (Rossiter 1982) would be a more effective advertising tactic. Reid, Vokey and Hammersley (1990) show that reasonably close variations (in their experiment, of different photographs of the same person) do not hamper recognition very much and may even aid in "resistance to extinction" from a learning theory viewpoint. If a brand symbol is employed as the STD, minor variations from time to time may help in strategic positioning of the brand. For example, McDonald's in Australia uses the familiar "Golden Arches" logo with a tiny map of Australia added beneath, presumably to localize this global brand's appeal.

Share-of-Voice (SOV) but Flighted Media Spending

For a new brand to build equity fast using an STD in advertising, a dominant LC+1 (see Rossiter and Percy 1987) SOV media spending policy would be advisable. The visual nature of the STD indicates that dominant SOV would not be necessary but this is superseded by the need to form associationsCof attributes or of emotionsCa learning process that is affected by competitive interference and thus relates to dominant SOV spending (Rossiter and Percy 1987). However, prolonged dominance could be self-defeating. The well-established phenomenon of "semantic satiation" (Lambert and Jacobovits 1960; Smith and Klein 1990) suggests that "massed" exposure of the STD is to be avoided after the acquisition phase of learning. After an initial massed launch, the brand should try to "dominate" in its advertising over other brandsCbut only for short, spaced periods. Our STD model therefore points to and integrates two media spending tactics: amount and timing. Amount is always "dominant SOV" but the timing of this is also crucial. Following the initial launch of the new brand, a "flighted" media schedule would be superior.


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John R. Rossiter, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Lawrence Ang, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia


E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 1 | 1993

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