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The role of implicit learning in logo substitution

Rafal Ohme (Department of Business Management, University of Stellenbosch, Matieland, Stellenbosch, South Africa and Institute of Psychology, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Lublin, Lublin Region, Poland)
Christo Boshoff (Department of Business Management, Stellenbosch University, Matieland, South Africa)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 12 August 2019




Some marketers have challenged psychologists’ contention that human beings can only learn by using conscious effort. They argue that advertising can be effective at low levels of (or even no) attention. Also, despite the absence of (or low levels of) consciousness, these subconscious responses can be linked to brands. The purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of implicit learning in the context of logo substitution – an image that may not look like the original logo, and may not even be consciously associated with the original brand or its logo.


Data were collected by means of two quasi-experimental studies.


The results suggest that, thanks to implicit learning, logo substitution can be effective.

Research limitations/implications

One limitation was that data were collected from two relatively small convenience samples.

Practical implications

Logo substitution can be of value when a company faces a situation when advertising is banned or restricted, when the target market is saturated with marketing stimuli (clutter) and when there is a risk that aggressive advertising can lead to psychological reactance. The purpose of logo substitution would then be to unobtrusively activate mental representations closely related to the original logo.


The central contribution of this study is that it demonstrates how the principles of implicit social cognition, implicit learning and logo substitution can be used by marketers to overcome the undesirable and even adverse advertising circumstances they sometimes face.



This research study did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.


Ohme, R. and Boshoff, C. (2019), "The role of implicit learning in logo substitution", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 36 No. 5, pp. 610-619.



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