Perceived Attractiveness of Brand Names and the Use of Consonants

Shirley Wing Ki Tam, Ann Wai Huen To, Mingxing Li*, Yoyo Pui Yiu Tsang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


While the relation between meaning and speech sound is arbitrary, various studies in the literature have shown that some sound properties can be more preferred in brand names than others. Based on the findings in the literature, this study examines (i) if certain consonants are more likely to be associated with the perceived attractiveness of a brand name, (ii) if the same pattern holds across different product types, and (iii) if female and male listeners have the same preference. In a perceptual experiment, Cantonese and Mandarin listeners saw an image of a product in categories such as clothing and fragrance, and they heard two audio brand names differing only in their initial consonants as a fricative vs. a plosive. The listeners’ subjective judgements as to which name sounds more attractive showed a difference between product types in terms of the preference of consonants, e.g., plosives are more likely to be associated with attractiveness for clothing while fricatives are with fragrance. The same difference between product types generally held across Cantonese listeners and Mandarin listeners, despite the difference in their native languages and their overall difference in preferring fricatives vs. plosives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-46
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental Linguistics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

User-Defined Keywords

  • brand name
  • perception
  • attractiveness
  • fricative
  • plosive


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