Circles and Swooshes

What's behind the trend toward kinder, gentler logos?

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Daniel Acker / Bloomberg / Getty

Pepsi products on display at a Costco store in Queens, N.Y.

When Starbucks coffee rolls out its new logo in stores in early March, you might notice something missing from your coffee cup: the words Starbucks Coffee. The company says removing its angular text from the logo allows for more flexibility overall. And Vikas Mittal, a Rice University professor who studies logo redesigns and brand commitment, believes it will have an added benefit as Starbucks begins to expand in Asia.

In a paper to be published in the Journal of Consumer Marketing, Mittal and co-authors Michael Walsh and Karen Winterich found that when angular logos were changed to rounded ones, they were more appealing in countries like India and China, which have cultures that tend to be more interdependent and collectivist. Starbucks looks to triple the number of its stores in China by 2015 and expand into supermarkets and sell more noncoffee products at home.