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Phonetic elements of brand names can convey a range of specific meanings. However, an integrated understanding of the sound symbolism of brand names remains elusive. Here, we classify sound symbolism in brand names based on three key dimensions of the semantic differential (evaluation, potency, and activity). In particular, we demonstrated that the sound symbolism of brand names can be explained in terms of the two dimensions of evaluation and potency (but not activity). The presence of higher-frequency sounds (front vowels, fricative, and voiceless consonants) in brand names tends to be associated with concepts linked to higher evaluation and lower potency, whereas lower-frequency sounds (back vowels, stop, and voiced consonants) tend to be more strongly associated with concepts linked to lower evaluation and higher potency. This study provides an integrative understanding of sound symbolism in brand names in terms of semantic differential meanings.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Business Research

Publication Date





365 - 373