Preview content only
Content available from Marketing Letters
This content is subject to copyright. Terms and conditions apply.
Text is gendered: the role of letter case
&Sam J. Maglio
Accepted: 3 January 2021 /
#The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC part of Springer Nature 2021
This research investigates the association between letter case and perception of gender.
We propose that referents are judged as more feminine (vs. masculine) when their
names are written with lowercase (vs. uppercase) letters. This effect emerges indepen-
dent of differences in the size in which the letters appear and cannot be fully explained
by differences in angularity. We further identify that evaluations of feminine (vs.
masculine) objects become more favorable upon presenting their names in lowercase
(vs. uppercase) letters. This association between gender and letter case is more pro-
nounced for referents with a clear gender identity (e.g., fragrances and not vacuums).
By first identifying and then exploring consequences of the novel link between letter
case and gender, the present investigation contributes to research on linguistics,
inference, and conceptual associations while also providing insights as to how to
construct communication tools most effectively.
Keywords Language .Gender .Letter case .Conceptual metaphor
Communications via printed words are comprised of alphabetical characters, which can be
presented as lowercase or uppercase letters. In marketing contexts, brands often name
themselves using only lowercase (e.g., amazon, intel, pepsi, ups, accenture, ebay, adidas,
hp., mastercard, salesforce) or uppercase letters (e.g., SAMSUNG, IBM, IKEA, DHL,
GUCCI, SONY, VISA, NETFLIX, LEGO; see Interbrand best global brand 2018). Its
name is often the very first thing consumers learn about brands, making brand name letter
Marketing Department, The University of Sydney Business School, University of Sydney, Sydney,
Departments of Management and Psychology, Rotman School of Management, University of
Toronto Scarborough, Toronto, Canada
Published online: 19 January 2021
Marketing Letters (2021) 32:179–190