Open Access
Zhang, Lu
Graduate Program:
Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
Committee Members:
  • Anna S Mattila, Thesis Advisor
  • Bernard James Jansen, Thesis Advisor
  • Search Engine
  • Brand relationship
  • Brand knowledge
  • Performance perception
Brands have significant impact on consumers’ perception and choices of a product in both online and offline environments. In this work, we investigate the effects of brand logos, brand awareness, brand image, brand knowledge (composed of brand awareness and brand image) and brand relationship (composed of brand satisfaction and brand trust) in the Web search engine area. Our research aim is to investigate the effect of brand on users’ perception of search engine performance in order to provide insights on search engines as services in this unique marketplace. We use a survey of 207 participants for data collection and a mixed methods approach of both qualitative (open coding) and quantitative (structural equation modeling) for the data analysis. Our findings revealed users’ brand relationship with a search engine has a direct effect on their perception of performance, whereas their brand knowledge about a search engine has an indirect effect. This indicates that customers seem to attribute greater perception of search engine performance and more commitment for the relationship with this brand rather than their knowledge about it. Findings also show that some search engines have branding logos that result in confusion or negative brand reaction from customers and brand image varies among the top search engines, with many consumers holding positive or negative brand opinion. The study has implications for both academics investigating the search engine marketplace as well as user perspectives of search engines and practitioners in the search engine area from both established and emerging search engine companies.