OBJECTIVE:To examine the effect of branding, as indicated by brand name, on evaluation of the cigarette smoking experience. DESIGN:Between-subjects and within-subjects experimental study. Participants were randomly allocated to smoke a cigarette from a pack featuring a premium brand name and a cigarette from a pack featuring a value brand name. Within each condition, participants unknowingly smoked two identical cigarettes (either two premium or two value cigarettes). SETTING:Australia, October 2014, 2 years after tobacco plain packaging implementation. PARTICIPANTS:81 current cigarette smokers aged 19-39 years. From apparently premium and value brand-name packs, 40 smokers were allocated to smoke the same actual premium cigarettes and 41 were allocated to smoke the same actual value cigarettes. PRIMARY OUTCOME MEASURES:Experienced taste (flavour, satisfaction, enjoyment, quality, liking, mouthfeel and aftertaste), harshness, dryness, staleness, harm/strength measures (strength, tar, lightness, volume of smoke), draw effort and purchase intent. RESULTS:Cigarettes given a premium brand name were rated as having a better taste, were less harsh and less dry than identical cigarettes given a value brand name. This pattern was observed irrespective of whether the two packs actually contained premium or value cigarettes. These effects were specific: the brand name did not influence ratings of cigarette variant attributes (strength, tar, volume of smoke, lightness and draw effort). CONCLUSIONS:Despite the belief that brand names represent genuine differences between cigarette products, the results suggest that at least some of this perceived sensory difference is attributable to brand image.