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Does Seeing an Apple Logo a Day Make You Smarter?

Brand campaigns, like the one for Apple's iPod are good at getting consumers to crave certain products. But can the right brand images also inspire creativity? The answer may surprise you.

Can a brand make you smarter? That’s what our intrepid reporter Alix Steel set out to find out after reading a consumer study on the power of the Apple (AAPL) logo and subliminal messaging. 

“Apple has worked for many years to develop a brand character associated with nonconformity, innovation and creativity,” says Tanya Chartrand, co-author of the study, published in the April issue of the Journal of Consumer Research and conducted by researchers from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the University of Waterloo, Canada. “And IBM (IBM) is viewed by consumers as traditional, smart and responsible.” 

But do the brand's logos inspire viewers to aspire to their company's associated traits? According to the study, the answer is yes. The researchers asked 341 university students to come up with as many uses as possible for a brick (aside from constructing a building), and after subliminally seeing the Apple logo, they devised up to 30% more uses than the control group. 

“Each of us is exposed to thousands of brand images every day, most of which are not related to paid advertising,” says study co-author Gavan Fitzsimons. “We assume that incidental brand exposures do not affect us, but our work demonstrates that even fleeting glimpses of logos can affect us quite dramatically.”

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Steel conducted research of her own—albeit a little less scientific—on the streets of New York. Turns out residents of the Big Apple aren’t very good at math, even when inspired by the logo of a little Apple. See for yourself!