This paper addresses the relationship between brand logo symmetry and product design inferences. By relying on the theoretical concepts of consumer self-congruity and spillover effects, we propose that brand logo associations should be in congruence with the consumer's self-concept to have a positive effect on logo liking and, consequently, on product design inferences. Consumers tend to associate asymmetry, not symmetry, with excitement and compare their own self-concept with these perceived associations. Due to self-congruity effects, consumers have higher preferences for a brand logo if the brand logo's associations match their own self-concept. Based on their logo liking, consumers are able to make attitude-based product design inferences. The impact on product design inferences varies with regard to the dimensions of product design. More specifically, the findings demonstrate that inferred product aesthetics and symbolism are, in fact, more strongly affected in comparison to inferred product functionality.
Brand logos are key assets in companies' communication efforts (Henderson, Cote, Leong, & Schmitt, 2003) and important tools to differentiate brands from their competition (Melewar & Saunders, 2000). In particular, logos are often the first exposure to a brand or company when they appear on a product, in an advertisement or in another way. Thus, a logo contributes to the process of building consumers' brand image (Cian, Krishna, & Elder, 2014). Firms recognize the importance of brand logos (Phillips, McQuarrie, & Griffin, 2014) and spend large amounts of their marketing budget on brand logo creation (Hagtvedt, 2011). Classically, brand logos can incorporate various elements that designers can use in the creation of a brand logo, such as specific shapes, images, sizes, typographies or colors (Celhay, Boysselle, & Cohen, 2015; Hynes, 2009). However, little is known about how a brand logo's design elements affect consumer perception (Bottomley & Doyle, 2006; Guido, Pichierri, Nataraajan, & Pino, 2016; Salgado-Montejo, Velasco, Olier, Alvarado, & Spence, 2014). Specifically, brand logo symmetry, as an important design factor, has recently gained interest in marketing research (Bajaj & Bond, 2018; Marsden & Thomas, 2013). Symmetry is typically defined as the level of reflection of an image around its vertical axis (Wagemans, 1997). In this context, prior research has focused on the relationship between brand logo symmetry and brand logo perception (Henderson & Cote, 1998; Miceli, Scopelliti, Raimondo, & Donato, 2014). Other empirical studies have found effects of symmetry in brand logo design on perceived brand personality and on brand equity (Bajaj & Bond, 2018; Luffarelli, Stamatogiannakis, & Yang, 2015). However, a brand logo provides information not only about the brand itself but also about the products of a brand. In fact, brand logos can even fuel consumers' expectations about actual product appearances (Henderson & Cote, 1998). Although an appealing product appearance (e.g., a well-perceived product design) may significantly impact consumer behavior and is therefore highly important from a marketing perspective (Bloch, 1995; Kristensen, Gabrielsen, & Zaichkowsky, 2012), prior research has largely neglected the relationship between brand logo design and belonging product perception, but research has recently called for empirical investigations in this context (e.g., Bajaj & Bond, 2018). We take up this call and contribute to this important topic by investigating the effects of brand logo symmetry on product design inferences. In this regard, we also consider consumer self-concept as an important impact factor in the relationship between brand logo symmetry and product design inferences. This approach builds on existing literature linking asymmetry to associations of arousal and excitement (e.g., Berlyne, 1971; Luffarelli et al., 2015).