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Uppercase brand names feel more premium

UPPERCASE brand names feel more premium, and people looking for high-end products are more likely to buy them. Mixed or lowercase names feel more mainstream.

Topics: Brand & Strategy | Messaging & Copy
For: B2C
Research date: March 2021
Universities: Zhejiang University

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📝 Intro

Does it matter whether Ariyh’s brand name is written as ariyh or ARIYH?

As I discovered from today’s study yes, it does.

Let’s take a look.

📈 Recommendation

Choose your brand name’s letter case (lowercase, UPPERCASE, or Mixed) based on your product type and target customers:

  • If your product is for a premium audience, use an uppercase brand name

  • If your product is low cost or for a mainstream audience, use a lowercase or mixed case brand name

🎓 Findings

  • People perceive brands using uppercase letters as being more premium than brands using lowercase letters.

    • The correlation is 0.31 (possible range is between 0 and 1), meaning it’s a medium size effect

  • Therefore:

    • When people are buying a product to signal their social status (e.g. nice clothes), they’ll be more inclined to buy an uppercase brand

    • When people are trying to save money (e.g. casual clothes for gardening), they’ll lean towards a lowercase brand

  • The effect reverses for people who prefer to be inconspicuous (i.e. those that don’t like flashy brands).

One of the fictional brands tested in experiments - Click to zoom in

🧠 Why it works

  • We see uppercase brand names as attracting more attention.

  • Because premium brands are often used to impress others (by attracting attention), we assume that uppercase brand names are more premium.

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  • This effect only appears for products that will be used in public (e.g. cars, clothes, suitcases).

  • This study mainly tested electronic products, clothing, and personal accessories. It’s unclear how much of the effect extends to other product categories.

🏢 Companies using this

  • In late 2018, the famous premium brand Dior announced that it was changing its brand name to an uppercase version, DIOR. Other premium brands (e.g. Berluti) have also changed their brand names from lowercase to uppercase.

  • Mainstream brands (e.g., Motorola, Walmart) have tended to switch from uppercase to lowercase. Still, a few have done the opposite. For example, Honor, a low-priced mobile brand, changed its brand name from honor to HONOR.

  • Approximately 42.4% of brands use uppercase in their brand names. 47% use mixed case, and 10.6% use lowercase.

⚡ Steps to implement

  • Decide what type of audience you are targeting:

    • If premium: use an UPPERCASE brand name

    • If mainstream: use a lowercase or Mixed case brand name

  • If your brand is already well established, keep in mind that changing your name letter case may temporarily hurt how well your brand is recognized in the short term.

🔍 Study type

Lab and online experiments. China

📖 Research

Yu, Y., Zhou, X., Wang, L., & Wang, Q. Uppercase Premium Effect: The Role of Brand Letter Case in Brand Premiumness. Journal of Retailing (March 2021).

🏫 Affiliations

Zhejiang University. China

Remember: Because of the groundbreaking nature of this paper, it could be disproven in the future (although this is rare). It also may not be generalizable to your situation. If it’s a risky change, always test it on a small scale before rolling it out widely.

🎓 Found this insight useful?