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The importance of brand cues in intangible service industries: an application to investment services

Michael K. Brady (Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA)
Brian L. Bourdeau (Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA)
Julia Heskel (Marketing Communications, PRTM, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 1 October 2005




The puprose of this study is to empirically test the suggestion that branding is more important for services than for physical goods and that there is a direct relationship between the level of intangibility and the importance of branding.


An exploratory study is employed using a scenario‐based repeated measures ANOVA design, wherein the degree of product intangibility is varied from high (mutual funds) to medium (hotels) to low (computers) through a survey distributed to 101 respondents.


The results support the position that intrinsic brand cues are more important for highly intangible service purchases (mutual funds) than for purchases that are more tangible (hotels and computers). The results also reveal that extrinsic brand cues are less important in purchase decisions of highly intangible services.

Research limitations/implications

This study answers a call for additional empirical research into the dynamics of services branding and its effects on consumer decision making.

Practical implications

This study provides managers with information about how to prioritize brand‐building activities.


This study fills an important gap in the services marketing literature by offering a rare empirical study on services branding. Furthermore, this study makes an important extension to the research of Krishnan and Hartline in their article, “Brand equity: is it more important in services?”by testing the effects of specific brand cues on consumer's purchase decisions. The findings are more in line with prior conceptual research on the importance of services branding than the results presented by Krishnan and Hartline.



Brady, M.K., Bourdeau, B.L. and Heskel, J. (2005), "The importance of brand cues in intangible service industries: an application to investment services", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 19 No. 6, pp. 401-410.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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