Which One Won? The Importance of Word Associations

When it comes to marketing, language is everything. You have to use words that capture the imaginations of your target demographic. To do this, you must understand the associations that a word can carry.

Connotations are the cultural and emotional baggage that words can carry within a specific culture. For example, the words clever and devious are synonymous, but devious has a negative connotation, as it is associated with underhanded motivations. Many people haven’t thought about connotations since their high school English classes, but it’s a crucial idea for anyone using language to sell a product.

This featured poll is like a case study in how connotations affect customers’ perception of a product. Fifty female respondents were asked which of two names they would prefer for a YouTube channel and website featuring reviews of different bags. Option A was the name “Bag Vids” and Option B was “Bag Reports.” Can you guess which one won?

And the winner is…

The respondents overwhelmingly preferred the name “Bag Reports.” Of the 50 female respondents, 39 chose Option B while only 11 chose Option A. The only demographic for whom Option A was the favorite was the 18-24 age range. In all other groups, Option B was the favorite by more than 20 points.

Why did it win?

The written responses shed some interesting light on the reasons for this preference. Those who preferred the name “Bag Vids” said that it sounded more modern and interesting than “Bag Reports.” They also complained that “Bag Reports” sounded boring and formal.

In the same vein, the respondents who preferred “Bag Reports” said that name was more descriptive and sounded more professional. Several respondents also noted that the term “vids” was unnecessary since viewers will already expect video on a platform like YouTube and that a video-specific term should be avoided if the website includes written content.

The most obvious takeaway from this result is that the more descriptive title — “Bag Reports,” in this case — is the best choice for marketing the product. While that’s true enough, it’s also worth analyzing the comments about which title sounded more interesting and which sounded more professional.

Those comments raise one question: How can one word make the difference between sounding interesting and sounding professional?

Let’s examine the connotations of that one word. It makes sense that vids is viewed as both unprofessional and interesting. To begin with, vids is a colloquialism (an abbreviation of videos). This pop culture term would never be used in a formal context.

Because of that, “Bag Vids” sounds more casual, modern, and relaxed. Therefore, some people perceive it as more fun or interesting. To others, however, it may sound unprofessional for exactly the same reason.

That explanation also makes sense given that the 18-24 age group was the only demographic that preferred “Bag Vids” as a title. The young adult demographic is the most likely to be drawn to a casual and modern video series.

On the other hand, reports is a more formal, almost academic term. It has connotations of professionalism, serious research, and credibility. For a person interested in a reliable source of information on the best handbags, backpacks, and messenger bags, that kind of title is far more alluring than a colloquial title.

The principle of connotations can be applied to any marketing situation. If you were marketing, for example, reviews of skateboards for teenagers and young adults, then a colloquial title for the channel and website would make sense. On the other end of the spectrum, slang terms and casual language should be avoided when selling expensive office furniture to high-powered executives.

Marketing is all about language. Keep in mind the more subtle connotations that can affect your audience’s perception of your product. The perfect way to assess how your audience reacts to a name is to run a PickFu poll. Try it now!


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