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Label Persuasion
By: Kaitlin T. Gallucci
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A couple of weeks ago, we argued that a brand is more than its logo. However, a recent article from The Economist explains that in certain cases, a logo can in fact define a brand — namely, in the fashion industry. According to the results of a study, “it is not the design itself that counts, but the label.”

Conducted by Rob Nelissen and Marijn Meijers of Tilburg University in the Netherlands, the study consisted of a series of tests that measured people’s reactions to test subjects wearing logo-emblazoned versus non-logo clothing. While it is expected that wearing designer clothing “lends an air of wealth, sophistication, and high status,” the research showed that clothing with an obvious designer logo is almost necessary in order to enjoy those perceived benefits. Apparently, the logo speaks a great deal more than quality, craftsmanship, or design ever could. Ultimately, a designer polo shirt is not perceived in the same way without a logo — and neither is the wearer.

Volunteers were asked to rate a photo of a man in a polo shirt based on perceived status and wealth. When the polo had a recognizable Lacoste or Tommy Hilfiger logo, the man was rated as being wealthier and of a higher status as compared to the photos in which the shirt had no logo or a non-luxury logo. In a similar experiment, volunteers were asked to rate a video of a man interviewing for a job. Though the videos featured the same man, he was rated as more suitable for the job and recommended for a higher salary when he was wearing a shirt with a logo.

Another test had a woman conducting a survey in a shopping mall. When she wore a sweater with a Tommy Hilfiger logo, 52% of the people she approached agreed to take the survey; when she wore an identical sweater without a logo, only 13% agreed to take the survey. A test conducted while collecting money for charity had similar results; when wearing clothing with designer labels, nearly twice as much money was collected than when wearing non-designer clothing.

So, no wonder brands are big on logo-branding. A logo denotes luxury and quality, both for the brand and the consumer. As The Economist described, “This study confirms a wider phenomenon. A work of art’s value, for example, can change radically, depending on who is believed to have created it, even though the artwork itself is unchanged. And people will willingly buy counterfeit goods, knowing they are knock-offs, if they bear the right label. What is interesting is that the label is so persuasive.”

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About the Author
Kaitlin T. Gallucci is a New York based direct and digital marketing strategist. She tweets here.
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