Composite branding extensions, wherein two existing brands ally themselves to create a composite brand name and enter a different product category, have become a common way to introduce a new product. An important managerial issue is deciding how to position the two brand names within the expression to communicate this alliance to consumers. Drawing on linguistic theories, this research explores how consumers may interpret different composite brand expressions relative to the positions of the two brand names in the expressions. We find that the brand in the initial position of most expressions is perceived as more closely associated with, and more responsible for the extension product than the other brand in the alliance. This perceived responsibility is also influenced by the perceived relative brand strengths, or the marketing abilities of both brands.
Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, March 2014