Wal-Mart’s Logo Change (…er, we mean Walmart)

Discussion
Jul 01, 2008
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Walmart has confirmed earlier reports, starting with one in The Wall Street Journal, that it is rolling out a new logo to update its image. Gone will be the use of a hyphen or star between “Wal” and “Mart”. Instead, “Walmart” will be followed by a starburst.

The retailer confirmed it was going to replace the current logo on the front of its stores with the new version beginning this fall. According to a statement on the Walmart website, the company has already begun introducing its new look in “refreshed store signage and recent print advertisements and TV commercials.”

Walmart’s new look, which was in development for two years, is the first time the company has reworked its logo since 1992. A company statement claimed, “This logo update is simply a reflection of the refreshed image of our stores and our renewed sense of purpose of helping people save money so they can live better.”

Discussion Question: How important are logos? Does Walmart’s new logo visually convey the image the company is looking to project? Is Walmart making a smart move?

[Author’s Commentary]
A post to a BusinessWeek blog illustrates some of the perils associated with logo development. This is even more true when the company using the logo is named Walmart.

A responder called Rick wrote: “The five pointed star that Wal*Mart uses is a symbol of god, peace, and tranquility and should not be replaced by a six pointed star that is the sign of the devil. If Wal*Mart removes the star, it should be replaced with a -Hyphen.”

Another named Andy responded: “I can’t tell if Rick’s comment is sarcastic or not, but besides being hilarious, it’s actually representative of Walmart’s typical customer.”

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

32 Comments on "Wal-Mart’s Logo Change (…er, we mean Walmart)"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Nikki Baird
Guest
Nikki Baird
11 years 5 months ago
Wow. I was all set to comment on how every brand needs to refresh its image every once in awhile, and how the current (old) Wal-Mart logo is indeed so “1990s”, but then I saw the comments pulled from the BusinessWeek article. Wow. If that reaction is to be taken seriously, then I wonder if Walmart did any vetting of its logo with its core customer base. The star aside, it was interesting to me that they also decided to move away from the red-white-and-blue logo–and announce it so close to the 4th of July. Walmart is becoming an international brand–not yet at the scale of Tesco or Metro, but getting there. It needs an image that will resonate with all of its customers. However, you can’t do that in a way that makes your core customers feel like you are abandoning them. I wonder if a more gradual change, over 2 steps or so, would have been more advisable. All that said, isn’t it amazing how much angst can be generated over a simple… Read more »
Steve Bramhall
Guest
Steve Bramhall
11 years 5 months ago

Economic downturn, low consumer confidence, dollar sliding, rising costs…. Will this convince the customer to leave his home and spend more?

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
11 years 5 months ago

You’ve already failed when you have to explain what a new logo “means.” As a member of many, many logo-development teams over the years, I learned that logos must pull viewers forward, not “reflect” where they are currently. Modern, interesting, aspirational, and even a little futuristic works best. I find Walmart’s new corporate ID static, pedestrian, flavorless, and already old-looking. It’s just a typeface and an asterisk, for Pete’s sake. And we can no longer refer to Walmart as WM, but now must spell it out! Diabolical. Also, a comment on the “starburst:” It’s a bug. A bug is a design element that can be used by itself in graphic applications of all kinds, and it’s clear that that’s the purpose of the starburst/asterisk. I can see the design team’s presentation now: “Walmart will OWN the asterisk!”

Marc Gordon
Guest
Marc Gordon
11 years 5 months ago

A logo is a symbol that represents a company, but does not necessarily describe it. With that, this new logo does seem fresher and more modern. I guess the only question is whether the actual stores will follow suit.

However, I do see this design as being dated. I predict a new design by 2012.

As for taking two years, I sure hope the design firm didn’t charge by the hour. My firm has pumped out better logos in a few hours.

Mel Kleiman
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

My first reaction to reading the headline was why make the change? Upon seeing the new logo, the reaction changed to this looks bright, updated, and now I don’t have to train my spell checker that Wal-Mart has a hyphen in it. This looks like a good move that it carried forward and use wisely can help make Walmart a brighter, nicer place to shop.

I’ve noted that Walmart is getting much better at customer service. In fact, in a recent personal incident, did much better then Macy’s. Still, the lines are too long and they need to do a better job of scheduling staff to cover the registers.

Christopher P. Ramey
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

What matters for their value-driven consumer is what the Walmart logo stands for. The new logo creates a reference in time which requires Walmart to embrace an even heightened focus on their core values.

Warren Thayer
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

Ian Percy hit the nail on the head.

I love Walmart and Wal-Mart. Always have.

Notice to all: I design corporate logos, as a sideline. No waiting. Results in just 2 hours. Only $33 million. Call me. Operators are standing by.

Janis Cram
Guest
Janis Cram
11 years 5 months ago

Yes, every so often a brand needs an update but a rose by any other name…

Let’s concentrate a little less on the logo and a little more on better shopper experiences (like cleaner stores).

Giacinta Shidler
Guest
Giacinta Shidler
11 years 5 months ago

I like the logo. It looks friendly, fresh and inviting. I would like to shop in a store with that logo.

…But then I remember the last time I was in my local Walmart. Long lines, associates that don’t care or are impossible to find, and just a general sense of chaos. A new logo doesn’t mean much if they don’t devote more resources to improving the internal experience.

Li McClelland
Guest
Li McClelland
11 years 5 months ago

Walmart can surely justify a facelift and logo change for a number of standard business reasons as were outlined in the article. But have they honestly considered the timing of this large expenditure and the blatancy of this large expenditure during an economic downturn, and the message it sends? There is not a Walmart customer alive, I would venture to guess, who is not going to wonder why all that corporate dough could not have been allocated toward more price roll-backs rather than a cosmetic upgrade.

Mary Baum
Guest
Mary Baum
11 years 5 months ago
All the world is going Web 2.0–bold type with rounded contours–and Walmart is jumping on the bandwagon. We just got back from our annual drive between St. Louis and the Carolinas, and I noticed that the Days Inn logo has undergone just this sort of update as well–only much more successfully. I could go on for several paragraphs about why I think Walmart’s new logo isn’t working as a piece of design–mainly, there’s no integration between the star and the word; they’re just sitting there next to each other. But from a business standpoint, the more serious error is that they’ve spent two years and a ton of money to come up with a look that throws out the equity they’ve built in the previous identity, in favor of a look they don’t understand and a strategy direction–upscale–that failed for them when retail was booming. Why would they take the horse back to that pond in a recession, when the water level is likely to be down by half? In a way, Rick the devil-fearer… Read more »
Dan Nelson
Guest
Dan Nelson
11 years 5 months ago

Ian is right on the mark with his comments. Suppliers and Walmart shoppers are not going to get new religion just because the “squiggly” was replaced by a star, then replaced at the end of Walmart by a starburst. What Walmart associates, the Walmart shopper, and their suppliers really care about is positive changes in communications, pricing, store service and shopper support, and the “overall experience” of the Walmart way.

Walmart (and Sam’s) leadership needs to concentrate more on their “relationships” and not be too hyped up on logo changes. Unless there is an increased energy and focus on working with the 3 critical conditions above and reinforcing the new culture, the logo change will mean very little to the hopeful improvements in results Walmart and Sam’s is trying to attain.

Ian Percy
Guest
11 years 5 months ago
One human brain is capable of 10,000 trillion operations per second…and it took two (2) YEARS to take a hyphen out of a logo and put a star at the end? Anyone know what Walmart* paid for that? So many companies think that moving the head office, going through an M&A, changing corporate colors, or “refreshing” a logo will change performance and the shopping experience. Few things could be more foolish. The brutal reality is that if there is no refreshment of spirit and culture, a new logo isn’t going to make a difference. This is like trying to fix a marriage by buying a new house – but I digress. I was once brought in to help a hospital where, in an effort to lift almost non-existent morale, the executives stood at the front entrance and handed employees new T-shirts that read “We Care.” Many of them were found in the trash because that’s how the employees felt they were being treated. All true change must first be spiritual change. When the spirit has… Read more »
Rick Moss
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

I’m generally skeptical of these kinds of high-priced logo updates but I have to admit, I think the designer(s) did a nice job. It feels fresher and that could provide a slight mood uplift for consumers as they drive by the stores or see it in ads. Couldn’t come at a better time, economy-wise.

But I cringe to think what’s going to become of that asterisk. As soon as the ad guys run out of ideas, they’re going to put a smiley face in the middle and have that thing dancing around the store. Sadly inevitable 🙁

Mark Lilien
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

Great design doesn’t stop at the logo. Target’s logo, advertising fonts, store design, interior signage, and private label packaging are an integrated whole, not a conflicting mishmash. Great restaurant designs are also integrated, from the menu to the men’s room. From the Walmarts I’ve visited, the design coordination is poor. Compare the worst IKEA to the best Walmart. Compare the worst Staples to the best Walmart. Great design is a great investment.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
11 years 5 months ago

Walmart needs some freshening up. This looks like the start of Walmart going upscale. Could pallets of Louis Vuitton bags and speed bins of Dolce Gabana sunglasses be on the horizon?

Seriously though, I like the new logo. This freshening should filter down to the stores as well. I’m noticing some new layouts being piloted here in Toronto and it’s something that is desperately needed in some of the more ‘tired’ stores.

Max Goldberg
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

Logos are important. They are a brief representation of a company’s core story. As a result, companies carefully choose the typeface, colors and any images that are included in their logos.

I like the new WM logo. It will be interesting to see how they carry this new look into their stores and their advertising messages.

Dick Seesel
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

Walmart certainly has the opportunity to modernize its image without going too “upscale.” It experimented a couple of years ago with higher-priced goods, especially in apparel, and failed.

This logo change seems to be part of the same push toward a more modern, simplified image as the slogan, “Save Money. Live Better”–with the biggest remaining areas of opportunity being the overassortment and the in-store housekeeping. You’ve got to get the content and shopping experience right before fixing the marketing, not the other way around.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
11 years 5 months ago

The greatest value of the new Walmart logo is that it that will get lots and lots of publicity to the fact that the great but tired Wal-Mart is modernizing and getting “cool.” So, you non-Wal-Mart folks, give Walmart a another look–and try. You’ll like it.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

Wal-Mart, or Walmart, has changed its logo, tried several experiments with going upscale, is opening new formats, is expanding its business areas, so now the execs appear to want to have the logo reflect this “refreshed” image. Seems to me they are still trying to create this new image and see this as one more step. I’m not sure consumers’ perceptions are changing or that they want the company to change.

Research shows that changing consumers’ well-established images is extremely difficult and not always successful. It is also difficult to change an image and hold on the to old consumers. The change in logo may help a change in image in those consumers who are just beginning to shop at Walmart but may not be so successful with current loyal consumers.

Ben Ball
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

The importance of a logo can and should be huge–unfortunately, it usually isn’t. Good logos connote the essence of the company positioning. Great logos become iconic. We (or at least I) cannot presume to know the level of research, detailed strategic analysis and creative exploration that went into the new Walmart logo. I would assume “extensive” only begins to describe it.

But I would love to know if the ubiquitous smiley face of the “price rollback bandit” was considered–and if so, why rejected? I suspect fear of the image being too generic played into the thinking if it was even considered. It is, after all, available on every computer in the world these days. But somehow that ubiquitous availability to the common man seems to fit Walmart, no? Just one old marketing man’s thoughts….

George Whalin
Guest
George Whalin
11 years 5 months ago
WHO CARES?! The management at Walmart has managed to create the largest retail company in the world. Will changing the logo actually make a difference? I don’t think they will sell one more item because of a logo change. And what about the cost? It might make some of the people who work for the company feel better but, this kind of corporate waste is just insane. Recently, while driving through a southern state, I passed several Walmart stores where the lighted signs were burned out or were missing letters or pieces of the signs. This might be a good place to start if they want to upgrade their image. Yes, Walmart does some things amazingly well. At the same time they do absolutely foolish things like hold their own fashion show during Fashion Week in New York; run so-called fashion ads in Vogue magazine and try to sell high-fashion apparel like skinny jeans to the masses. While I believe smart retailers should always try new things, smart retailers do small tests to see if… Read more »
Jerry Gelsomino
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

As we all know, a logo is meant to depict the brand flavor of a company; the personality, the culture. If it doesn’t, it can easily be confused by what it means. Typographically speaking, every time we placed a hyphen or a star between Wal-Mart’s name, it stood out in our mind.

I’ve been following the spark that Walmart (notice, I’m learning) has created, and wonder how this connects with the company we all know. Also, for Mac fans, the new Walmart mark is surprisingly similar to the animated clock on the bottom of the desktop. Is there enough distinction for this mark to carry it for as long as the original did?

Charles P. Walsh
Guest
Charles P. Walsh
11 years 5 months ago

The new logo is a culmination of the two years of change which Walmart has undertaken. It seems to evoke the path from a seemingly PROFITEERING UNILATERAL BEHEMOTH to a socially responsible global citizen.

I like it; I think it represents their new approach quite well and I think that customers, at least those that notice it, will like it too.

James Tenser
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

Walmart is on the right track here, I think, semiotically speaking. The new logo font has a more international flavor, and the fleuron design is simple, positive and culturally neutral. Since I see two differing color treatments pictured in the articles, we may assume this to be flexible depending upon the design requirements of a given storefront or other application.

Now the downside–this logo has a distinctly “corporate” feeling. The same font and symbol would work well for Monsanto or Raytheon. (The former makes seeds, the latter military ordinance.)

Whether the new logo depicts a blossom or an explosion, Walmart will pay a price to re-image all its stores. Say new exterior signs cost $10K per store–that totes up to $36 million. Then add all the tags, bags and shopping cart handles, letterhead, business cards and employee vests…well you get the picture.

David damore
Guest
David damore
11 years 5 months ago

Brands–and Logos–are what PEOPLE think of them, not what the brand thinks it is.

If you have not already, check out Brand Tags. Participate at this link: http://www.brandtags.net/ and see all brands at this link: http://www.brandtags.net/browse.php

I think you will find the information enlightening.

Hopefully, Brand Tags adds a before and after feature (on a time line of some kind).

Walmart would make an excellent test case. One would think that Walmart will change all their logos in very quick fashion. If they do so, it will be interesting to see if people tag Walmart differently after the change.

Odonna Mathews
Guest
Odonna Mathews
11 years 5 months ago

The logo may look a bit different from outside the store, but consumers care most about what they experience inside the store.

And I wonder what it will cost to change all those signs in stores across the country?

Carlos Arambula
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

After the bad press Wal-Mart has received over the years, the current economic downturn has made consumers and consumer advocate groups look at Walmart with a new and improved perspective. It’s the perfect time to evolve the logo.

All this tells me is that the marketing folks at Walmart are thinking ahead. Very smart.

Theresa Fortune
Guest
Theresa Fortune
11 years 5 months ago
It seems that Wal-Mart is trying to cram a lot of changes in one year–the revamping of their product/brand development from Arkansas to New York, changing of the “everyday low price” slogan to “save more, live better,” and now the logo layout and color change. Change is good, and can be good if done the right way. Walmart has the following relationships to consider when making these changes: 1) The employees (especially the ones at the front lines dealing with the customers), 2) The customer, 3) The suppliers (the ones that really service their business), and 4) The business world. I think the slogan change to “save more, live better” was the best change they made because it reflects concern for all the relationships–it makes a statement to manage your money better whether as an individual or a business. The logo, from what I have read, is going to be in a burnt orange color, which interestingly is the same color of Hermes logo–this comes across as an upscale color reference. I do not think… Read more »
Ray Grikstas
Guest
Ray Grikstas
11 years 5 months ago

A competent and very conservative effort at re-branding. Like someone above noted, it gives them a neutral, self contained graphic element to exploit (like Target’s target). Mr Smiley was a tad childish, no?

Clever, too, removing the capital ‘M’ and shoving the ‘Wal’ and ‘Mart’ together. Maybe that’ll stop my kids squealing “Mall Wart” from the back seat when ever we drive by.

Or maybe not 😉

William Passodelis
Guest
11 years 5 months ago
I wholeheartedly agree with Mssrs. Gordon and Lilien. The refreshed logo is nice and it is a change but the Walmart shopper is there for a reason – Price! Walmart is Walmart; period. They have perfected Mr. Kresge’s idea of a “low price everything mart” and developed incredible efficiencies and business methods. They can not change who they are, what they do, and the market they serve. Granted, the market they serve is HUGE and getting bigger every day with their international expansions, but they can not be Target or a mid level retailer — it is a different business model and they know that, just as ALL OF YOU also know that. If the new logo however causes some of their customers to think a little differently about them, in a positive way, then perhaps they have spent their money wisely. The new logo is nice. It is no longer American colors but they are certainly no longer an “American retailer” — They are a world retailer now. The IN STORE experience which can… Read more »
Todd Mounlio
Guest
Todd Mounlio
4 years 11 months ago

I think it’s sad that all the marketing/corporate executives that have commented couldn’t see the simplicity in the Walmart logo. Sure, it’s a six point star, but the top 3 points make a W and the bottom 3 points make an M. Simple as that—no major symbolism.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

How important are logos to consumers’ perceptions of a given company and/or brand?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...