Alphanumeric brand names

Alphanumeric brand names are composed of letters and numbers. Examples include 7up, Saks Fifth Ave, Audi A4, Canon A75.[1][2] They may serve as abbreviations (e.g., 3M), indicate model extensions (iPhone 2,3,4,5), symbolize physical product attributes (the v-shaped V8 engine), incorporate technical attributes (AMD32 chips use 32-bit processors), refer to inventory codes or internal design numbers (e.g., Levi's 501).[3]

Gunasti and Ross (2010) define two dimensions of alphanumeric brand names: Link and Alignability as shown in the below table. Link refers to the connection between the brand name and a specific product feature or the product as a whole; whereas alignability is about whether the preferences for a product can be aligned with the numbers included in the brand names in an ascending or descending trend.

Alignability / Link: Linked (to attributes) Non-linked (to specific attributes) or Linked to Overall Product
ALIGNED Ascending Brand Names TECHNICAL SYMBOLISM (AMD32 versus AMD64: 32 vs. 64 bit processing) PRODUCT EXTENSIONS, SERIES, DATE OF RELEASE (Boeing 737, 747; Pentium 2,3,5; Windows 95, 98, 2000)
ALIGNED Descending Brand Names UNDESIRED ATTRIBUTES (Nickles35 bread with only 35 calories) MYTHICAL NUMBERING (Calvin Klein One perfume)
NON-ALIGNED Monotonic Brand Names PREFERENCE DEPENDS ON NEEDS (Coppertone 30, 40, 50) DESIGN CODES (Levi's 501, 505, 607) INVENTORY CODES (unknown to customers)

Kara, Gunasti and Ross (2015)[4] delineated the number and letter components of alphanumeric brands and observed that for new brand extensions firms can either change the letters or numbers of their parent brand names. Altering the number components of brand names (e.g., Audi A3 vs. A4 vs. A6 vs. A8) led to more favorable consumer reactions compared to changing the letter components (e.g., Mercedes C350 vs. E350 vs. S350).

In a recent study, Gunasti and Ozcan (2015) [5] further categorized alphanumeric brand names as round vs. non-round. Authors showed that use of round numbers in brand names is pervasive because this practice increases the tendency of consumers to perceive products as more complete (including all necessary attributes). For example, labeling an identical product with an S200 brand (round number) as opposed to an S198 or S203 brand can make consumers believe that the product is superior and more well-rounded. Another interesting observation was that presence of competitor alphanumeric brand name (e.g., Garmin 370) can affect consumer choices among the focal brand (e.g., TomTom 350 vs. TomTom360). Gunasti and Devezer (2015) observed that this effect occurs only for competing firms' products.[6]


  1. Gunasti, Kunter; Ross, William T (2010). "How and When Alphanumeric Brand Names Affect Consumer Preferences". Journal of Marketing Research. 47: 1177–1192. doi:10.1509/jmkr.47.6.1177.
  2. Pavia, Teresa A.; Arnold Costa, Janeen (1993). "The Winning Number: Consumer Perceptions of Alpha-Numeric Brand Names". Journal of Marketing. 57: 85–98. doi:10.2307/1251856.
  3. Boyd, Colin W (1985). "Point of View: Alpha-Numeric BrandNames". Journal of Advertising Research. 25 (5): 48–52.
  4. Kara, Selcan; Gunasti, Kunter; Ross, Willam. "Is it the "Alpha" or the "Numeric"?: Consumers' Evaluation of Letter versus Number Changes in Alphanumeric Brand Names". Journal of Brand Management. 2015: 515–533. doi:10.1057/bm.2015.28.
  5. Gunasti; Kunter; Ozcan, Timucin (2015). "Consumer Reactions to Round Numbers in Brand Names". Marketing Letters. 27: 309–322. doi:10.1007/s11002-014-9337-7.
  6. Gunasti, Kunter; Devezer, Berna (2015). "How Competitor Brand Names Affect Within-Brand Choices". Marketing Letters. doi:10.1007/s11002-015-9374-x.
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