The asymmetric effect of portfolio and image abstractness

Jennifer L. Stoner, Carlos J. Torelli, Alokparna Basu Monga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: This research distinguishes between abstract brand concepts built through the development of diverse product portfolios (i.e. portfolio abstractness) and those built through establishing human-like images (i.e. image abstractness), and investigates the joint effect of the two types of brand abstractness on building brand equity. Design/methodology/approach: The three studies presented use experimental design with participants in a laboratory setting and members of an online participant panel. Findings: Three studies demonstrate that while building abstractness by expanding a brand’s product portfolio can generate favorable brand evaluations, this positive effect is marginal compared to when the brand is imbued with human-like characteristics. Furthermore, the favorable effects on brand equity because of abstractness associated with a human-like brand image are evident in protection from brand dilution in the face of negative publicity. Research limitations/implications: The findings suggest that a consideration of different forms of abstractness is key to unlocking the complexities of understanding customer-based brand equity. Practical implications: This research shows that although building abstractness through a diversified product portfolio or a symbolic, human-like brand image can favorably impact customer-based brand equity (i.e. attitudes and responses to negative publicity), the former strategy has a marginal effect compared to the latter. Originality/value: This is the first research to conceptualize brand abstractness as stemming from broad portfolios or from human-like brand images. Additionally, it provides a holistic understanding of how these two forms of abstractness jointly influence brand evaluations and responses to negative publicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)503-515
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Product and Brand Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Marketing
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


  • Brand image
  • Brand management
  • Consumer brand equity
  • Negative publicity
  • Portfolio breadth


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