The Use of Numbers in Brand Names: Do Higher Numbers Reflect Better Quality/Performance?


Matthew Vance

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

USU Student Showcase

Publication Date


Faculty Mentor

Kenneth Bartkus


Developing an appropriate brand name entails consideration of how that name will be perceived by the target audience. In this regard, prior research has demonstrated that the use of numbers can affect how consumers perceive the brand. For product categories that are more functionally-oriented, higher numbers tend to suggest better quality and/or performance. For example, the iPhone 5 is likely to be perceived as newer than the iPhone 4 and the Ford F-250 truck is likely to be perceived as bigger than the Ford F-150. For product categories that are more symbolic in nature, however, a lower number may evoke stronger feelings of exclusivity or prestige. Chanel No. 1 would be an example of a brand that elicits both prestige and exclusivity. This study extends prior research in this area by examining the use of numbers in a previously under-researched product category: bicycles. Using a sample of 16 well-established bicycle brands, the results indicate that there is little consensus with half of the brands utilizing ascending numbers and the other half using descending numbers to denote increases in quality/performance. Given the functional nature of bicycles, this inconsistency suggests that the use of ascending versus descending numbers to reflect changes in quality/performance might be more complicated than previously thought. Alternatively, it might suggest that some manufacturers are using sub-optimal numbering to promote their brands.

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