Entrepreneurial firms, organizations, and institutions use brand name, logos, slogans, jingles, brand characters/personalities, URL, signage, packaging, letterhead paperwork, and advertising to increase brand awareness as part of their external branding efforts. Brand logos are also seen on labels, promotion materials, trade dress and employee uniforms, distribution trucks, and business cards. These external branding strategies and tactics help firms build not only corporate identity and brand persona to differentiate themselves from the competition, but also brand loyalty. Entrepreneurs can develop their brand's persona throughout the years with guided and planned actions and in turn consumer responses to their brand. Herskovitz and Crystal (2010) state that brand persona is essential in driving the continuity of the overall brand message. They (2010, p. 21) add that brand persona is "what makes the difference in strong or weak brand associations." Consumers attach human like characteristics to brands based on their understanding of brand's values and behaviors. Logo is an important part of the brand as it signals brand character through a stylized treatment of the company or brand name. It is like a signature of a person. Its main function is to remind the brand and make sure that "it remains at the forefront of the audience's thoughts" (Herskovits and Crystal, 2010, p.21).
Schecter (1993, p.33) defines logos as "the official visual representation of a corporate or brand name, and the essential component of all corporate and brand identity programs." Due to the entrepreneurial importance of logos in consumer sentiments (positive or negative attitudes) and brand awareness, great amounts of "investments are made because management expects that logos can add value to the reputation of an organization" (van Riel and van den Ban 2001, p. 428). Indeed, in 1994 over 3,000 new companies in the United States spent an estimated total of $120 million to create and implement a new logo (Anson, 1998). Timmons (1999), however, points out that entrepreneurs work with minimal resources.
Although the theoretical assumptions and evidence from practice underline the importance of logos in consumer perceptions of a company and its products (Schecter 1993) and their preference of brands, empirical research on the added value of logos are limited (Green and Lovelock, 1994). In fact, the impact of a logo's added value through its associations with brand awareness, consumer sentiments of a brand's logo, likelihood of brand purchase, and the entrepreneurial organization's performance has not been researched in the literature. Prior research did not pay much attention to logos. As the brands become more similar and struggle to gain unique associations in the presence of strong competitors, investigating the correlation of brand and logo associations become critical. As brand association researchers mentioned, brands are focusing on trivial attributes for unique brand associations and losing the core value of the brand. Logos may help brands to avoid lose focus. They may act as cues to elicit stronger associations than mere attributes and help differentiate in the presence of strong competitors. Boyle (2003) suggests that brand building efforts are more likely to succeed if associations are created based on personal identification rather than on abstract concepts. In support of this idea, Herskovits and Crystal (2010) suggests story-telling to build brand persona.
In this study, the authors develop a model that reflects the effectiveness of logos on organizations' performance. Specifically, the study examines the logo brand awareness level of the top 100 retailers, consumer sentiments of these retailers' logos, their prior shopping experience with the retailer, purchase intentions, and the relationship of these factors with the organizations' performance. The following sections provide a review of the relevant literature that substantiates the proposed model, the measurements and methodology to be used in a future empirical study, and discussions of the entrepreneurial significance of the findings from such research.
Brand Awareness, Prior Shopping Experiences, and Shopping Intentions
Aaker (1996, p. 10) defined brand awareness as the "strength of a brand's presence in the consumers' mind." Percy and Rossiter (1992, p. 264) deliberated the brand awareness as "a buyer's ability to identify a brand within a category in sufficient detail to make a purchase." Brand awareness has been measured with unaided recall of a brand and/or brand recognition (Aaker, 1991; Percy and Rossiter, 1992; Keller, 1993). Hence, brand awareness is the ability of a potential buyer to recognize or recall that a brand is a member of a certain product category (Aaker, 1991). Brand recognition usually happens at the point of purchase where a visual image such as a logo or package stimulates a response. After recognizing the brand, a buyer considers whether s/he needs to buy the category. Conversely, brand recall happens prior to purchase and customers have to remember brand name in sufficient detail when the brand is not present (Percy and Rossiter 1992). In...