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Affective Meaning Integration in Design and its Influence on Product and Brand Evaluation

Thomas van Rompay , Ad Pruyn

Previous research and theorizing in product design and consumer psychology testifies to the importance of unity or congruence among affective meanings connoted among elements in visual communications such as advertisements, product appearance and product packaging (e.g., Hekkert, 2006; Peracchio and Meyers-Levy, 2005; Van Rompay and Pruyn, in press). However, understanding of the processes whereby affective meaning congruence impacts consumer response is far from complete. In this paper, we propose a framework for understanding congruence effects in design based on recent studies addressing processing fluency. Moreover, we will distinguish between studies addressing congruence effects among strictly visual product features and congruence effects among affective meanings connoted by visual elements and textual elements such as brand slogans in advertising. In presenting the latter, the role of individual differences in information processing will be discussed and tested in an experimental study addressing effects of ‘advertising slogan-product shape’ congruence. Practical and managerial implications are discussed.


congruence, processing fluency, impression formation