Behavioral and neural investigation of brand names

Mei-chun CHEUNG, Yvonne Ming Yee HAN, Anges S. CHAN, Sophia L. SZE

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters

1 Citation (Scopus)


When a company takes its products into a foreign market, one of its important decisions is the choice of a suitable brand name. Many multinational companies from developed countries in the West often use their original English brand names. However, given that some consumers prefer brands in their own language, it is now common for companies to use both original English brand names and their corresponding Chinese translations, particularly if their products are marketed in China or other countries with a Chinese population. This chapter describes three experiments undertaken to examine the behavioral responses and neural mechanisms triggered by brand names to yield new insights into how such names are processed by consumers. The results of experiment 1 indicate that if people are familiar with and have knowledge of the brand name, they are able to identify and associate the brand with its respective English and Chinese names. Therefore, the use of both English and Chinese brand names for a product makes consumers familiar with the product. The EEG study conducted in experiment 2 reveals that brand names tend to be processed through semantic routes. Similar to proper names and nonwords, they are represented in the lexical systems of both hemispheres. In addition, English and Chinese brand names are processed in similar ways at the semantic level, and the difference in EEG coherence patterns associated with English and Chinese brand names is likely to be due to the phonological and orthographic processing associated with English and Chinese, respectively. Experiment 3 used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate brain activation associated with brand names. The results show that English and Chinese brand name processing follow similar patterns of bilateral lateralization activation. Unlike English words or Chinese characters, brand names trigger activation in the limbic lobe. Therefore, as a special category of words, brand names activate distinct patterns of neural processing in areas of the brain associated with emotion and memory. Copyright © 2013 Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPsychology of branding
EditorsW. Douglas EVANS
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc
ISBN (Electronic)9781626188815
ISBN (Print)9781626188174, 1626188173
Publication statusPublished - 2013


Cheung, M.-c., Han, Y. M., Chan, A. S., & Sze, S. L. (2013). Behavioral and neural investigation of brand names. In W. D. Evans (Ed.), Psychology of branding (pp. 111-130). New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.


  • Brand names
  • EEG
  • fMRI


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