Inspired by the logo redesign case of Starbucks, this research used four experiments to explore how marketers may broaden brand breadth and improve brand extension attitudes by removing the frame from a logo. A logo frame is speculated to create a mental boundary that dictates the scope to which products belong. Removing the logo frame thus frees the brand from such finite boundaries and encourages consumers’ relational associations. Study 1 investigated the mechanism underlying the impact of the logo frame on relational and item-specific elaborations. An open logo encouraged participants’ usage of relational elaborations, whereas a framed logo reinforced participants’ usage of item-specific elaborations. Study 2 demonstrated that participants associated broader product portfolios with a brand that had an open logo than a framed logo. Furthermore, Study 3 employed a brand extension scenario to support that removing the logo frame enhanced consumers’ attitudes toward a new extension. Study 4 illustrated that the perceived distance mediated the logo frame effect on extension attitudes as suggested by the Category Adjustment model. These findings demonstrate that marketers could leverage brand perception and favor certain brand extensions through an easily manipulated design feature, the logo frame.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Aaker, D.A., and K.L. Keller. 1990. Consumer evaluations of brand extensions. Journal of Marketing 54 (1): 27–41.
Alesandrini, K.L., and A.A. Sheikh. 1983. Research on imagery: Implications for advertising. In Imagery: Current theory, research and application, ed. A.A. Sheikh, 535–556. New York: Wiley.
Bottomley, P.A., and S.J.S. Holden. 2001. Do we really know how consumers evaluate brand extensions? Empirical generalizations based on secondary analysis of eight studies. Journal of Marketing Research 38: 494–500.
Boush, D.M., and B. Loken. 1991. A process-tracing study of brand extension evaluation. Journal of Marketing Research 28 (1): 16–28.
Burns, D.J., and C.A. Brown. 2000. Observations: The category access measure of relational processing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 26 (4): 1057–1062.
Cannold, J. 2011. Starbucks buys juice maker evolution fresh. CNNMoney November 10, 2011. http://money.cnn.com/2011/11/10/news/companies/starbucks_juice_evolution_fresh/index.htm.
Coren, S., and J.S. Girgus. 1980. Principles of perceptual organization and spatial distortion: The gestalt illusions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 6 (3): 404–412.
Dacin, P.A., and D.C. Smith. 1994. The effect of brand portfolio characteristics on consumer evaluations of brand extensions. Journal of Marketing Research 31 (2): 229–242.
Dawar, N. 1996. Extensions of broad brands: The role of retrieval in evaluations of fit. Journal of Consumer Psychology 5 (2): 189–207.
Douglas, K.M., and R.M. Sutton. 2003. Effects of communication goals and expectancies on language abstraction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84 (4): 682–696.
Einstein, G.O., and R.R. Hunt. 1980. Levels of processing and organization: Additive effects of individual-item and relational processing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory 6 (5): 588–598.
Fajardo, T.M., J. Zhang, and M. Tsiros. 2016. The contingent nature of the symbolic associations of visual design elements: The case of brand logo frames. Journal of Consumer Research 43 (4): 549–566.
Farran, E.K., S.C. Connell, and B.K. Pharwaha. 2012. The effects of perceptual grouping and category boundary salience on location memory. Psychology 3 (11): 953–958.
Foreman, N., and R. Gillett. 1997. A handbook of spatial research paradigms and methodologies, Vol. 2. London: Psychology Press.
Fox, E.J. 2012. Teavana up 50% on starbucks acquisition. CNN Money November 14, 2012. http://money.cnn.com/2012/11/14/news/starbucks-teavana/index.html.
Globe Standard One (GS1). 2016. Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) General Specifications, version 16. Retrieved 26 March, 2016, from https://www.gs1.org/standards/barcodes-epcrfid-id-keys/gs1-general-specifications.
Greenwald, A.G., and C. Leavitt. 1984. Audience involvement in advertising: Four levels. Journal of Consumer Research 11 (1): 581–592.
Grime, I., D. Adamantios, and G. Smith. 2002. Consumer evaluations of extensions and their effects on the core brand: Key issues and research propositions. European Journal of Marketing 36 (11/12): 1415–1438.
Guynn, M.J., M.A. McDaniel, G.L. Strosser, J.M. Ramirez, E.H. Castleberry, and K.H. Arnett. 2014. Relational and item-specific influences on generate–recognize processes in recall. Memory & Cognition 42 (2): 198–211.
Hagtvedt, H. 2011. The impact of incomplete typeface logos on perceptions of the firm. Journal of Marketing 75 (4): 86–93.
Henderson, P.W., J.L. Giese, and J.A. Cote. 2004. Impression management using typeface design. Journal of Marketing 68 (4): 60–72.
Holden, M.P., K.M. Curby, N.S. Newcombe, and T.F. Shipley. 2010. A category adjustment approach to memory for spatial location in natural scenes. Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory, and Cognition 36 (3): 590–604.
Hund, A.M., and J.M. Plumert. 2003. Does information about what things are influence children’s memory for where things are? Developmental Psychology 39 (6): 939–948.
Huttenlocher, J., L.V. Hedges, and S. Duncan. 1991. Categories and particulars: Prototype effects in estimating spatial location. Psychological Review 98 (3): 352–376.
Huttenlocher, J., L.V. Hedges, and J.L. Vevea. 2000. Why do categories affect stimulus judgment? Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 129 (2): 220–241.
Isidore, C. 2012. Starbucks opens its first juice bar. CNN Money March 19, 2012. http://money.cnn.com/2012/03/19/news/companies/starbucks-juice/index.htm.
Jiang, Y., G.J. Gorn, M. Galli, and A. Chattopadhyay. 2015. Does your company have the right logo? How and why circular- and angular-logo shapes influence brand attribute judgments. Journal of Consumer Research 42 (5): 709–726.
Kavilanz, P. 2011. Starbucks unveils a new logo. CNN Money January 5, 2011. http://money.cnn.com/2011/01/05/news/companies/starbucks_new_logo/index.htm.
Mao, H., and H. Krishnan. 2006. Effects of prototype and exemplar fit on brand extension evaluations: A two-process contingency model. Journal of Consumer Research 33 (1): 41–49.
Meyers-Levy, J. 1991. Elaborating on elaboration: The distinction between relational and item-specific elaboration. Journal of Consumer Research 18 (3): 358–367.
Meyers-Levy, J., and R. Zhu. 2007. The influence of ceiling height: The effect of priming on the type of processing that people use. Journal of Consumer Research 34 (2): 174–186.
Meyvis, T. and C. Janiszewski. 2004. When are broader brands stronger brands? An accessibility perspective on the success of brand extensions. Journal of Consumer Research 31 (2): 346–357.
Murphy, M.D. 1979. Measurement of category clustering in free recall. In Memory organization and structure, ed. Puff, C.R, 51–83. New York: Academic Press.
Myrseth, K.O.R. and A. Fishbach. 2009. Self-control: A function of knowing when and how to exercise restraint. Current Directions in Psychological Science 18 (4): 247–252.
Newcombe, N., J. Huttenlocher, A.B. Drummey, and J.G. Wiley. 1998. The development of spatial location coding: Place learning and dead reckoning in the second and third years. Cognitive Development 13 (2): 185–200.
Park, C.W., S. Milberg, and R. Lawson. 1991. Evaluation of brand extensions: The role of product feature similarity and brand concept consistency. Journal of Consumer Research 18 (9): 185–193.
Plumert, J.M., and A.M. Hund. 2001. The development of memory for location: What role do spatial prototypes play? Child Development 72 (2): 370–384.
Rahinel, R. and N.M. Nelson. 2016. When brand logos describe the environment: Design instability and the utility of safety-oriented products. Journal of Consumer Research 43 (3): 478–496.
Semin, G.R. and K. Fiedler. 1988. The cognitive functions of linguistic categories in describing persons: Social cognition and language. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 54 (4): 558–568.
Semin, G.R. and K. Fiedler. 1991. The linguistic category model, its bases, applications and range. European Review of Social Psychology 2 (1): 1–30.
Tadena, N. 2012. Starbucks to buy bay bread for $100 million. The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB1000142405270230383020457744676048715817.
Trope, Y., and N. Liberman. 2010. Construal-level theory of psychological distance. Psychological Review 117 (2): 440–463.
Tversky, A. 1977. Features of similarity. Psychological Review 84 (4): 327–352.
Wheeler, A. 2017. Designing brand identity: An essential guide for the whole branding team. New York: Wiley.
Funding was provided by Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan (Grant No. MOST 104-2410-H-004-128).
Appendix 1: Examples of product pictures with framed and open logos
Appendix 2: Logo stimuli used in Study 2
Appendix 3: Brand extension scenarios used in Study 3
Appendix 4: Map for locating new extensions, with the products dextrorotarily around the logo—Black & Decker
About this article
Cite this article
Chen, YS.A., Bei, LT. Free the brand: How a logo frame influences the potentiality of brand extensions. J Brand Manag 26, 349–364 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41262-018-0142-0
- Logo frame
- Brand extension
- Relational versus item-specific elaboration
- Category Adjustment model