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(Carey Business School, Johns Hopkins University, 2009-10) Kachersky, Luke; Sankar, Sen; Kim, Hyeong-Min
Consumers subconsciously prefer brand names that resemble their own names - an effect called name letter branding. We extend it and propose that a reversal of name letter branding, wherein consumers will subconsciously avoid self-resembling seller names, is possible when the buyer anticipates self-concept damage from an association with the seller. We find evidence of such behavior, which we call implicit distancing, in three studies. We show name letter branding and implicit distancing in actual transactions and determine underlying causal mechanisms in two experiments. Our findings suggest that self-concept motives determine the prevalence of name letter branding or implicit distancing.