Effect of visual brand imagery on consumer brand perceptions and self-brand connections
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My research examines whether and how the design of visual brand elements affect brand personality perceptions and self-brand connections. My two essays are linked by the idea that the design of visual brand elements affect the personal meaning of a brand to the consumer. As a result, marketers should systematically choose the design visual brand elements to communicate and strengthen their brand’s identity. The specifics are as follows. Essay 1 examines the role played by symmetry in the design of visual brand elements. Although prior research in aesthetics has established that visual symmetry generates positive affective response, I propose that symmetry can often play an important additional role, by affecting consumer perceptions regarding brand personality. Results of six experiments reveal that: 1) asymmetry in visual brand elements is associated by consumers with an exciting personality, 2) consumers prefer brands whose level of symmetry is congruent with their positioning, and 3) the effects of symmetry on personality perceptions are driven by subjective arousal. Together, my findings demonstrate that visual symmetry plays an important but nuanced role in the communication of brand identity. Essay 2 demonstrates that facial imagery in advertising leads to lower self-brand connections among female, but not male, consumers. Using literature on gender differences in information processing and face processing, I argue and find that faces in advertisements act as information, and that women, who pay more attention to faces than men, find it more difficult to generate consumption imagery when processing these advertisements. Because women engage in less visualization of themselves using the brand, they subsequently feel less connected to the brand. These results not only offer insights into how differences in information processing strategies of men and women affect responses to facial imagery in advertising, but also inform theories on how facial information constrains the generation of consumption imagery. In addition to contributing to the substantive field of visual design in marketing, my dissertation contributes broadly to research on branding by showing how visual brand imagery affects brand personality perceptions and self-brand connections.