03 July 2008

[logo_design] Meet the New Walmart ... Logo

1645.


There we are then. Goodbye Sans-Serif-of-doom-with-star-in-middle and yellow-smiley-face; it's a new day at Wal-mart ... sorry, Walmart ... as the retail Colossus refreshes its look


Refrresh is a good word for it. The look of the old look can be best summed up by what a writer in The Wall Street Journal said:



Part of Wal-Mart's continuing effort to update its once-dowdy image, the new logo for signs and building facades includes white letters on a burnt-orange background followed by a white starburst, according to an artist's rendering that the company filed recently with planning officials in Memphis, Tenn.



"Dowdy" is just the right word for it too. Walmart has many images in the minds of many USAans of as many political and economic stripes, but one thing "Wally-world"'s corporate identity could ever be accused of is being overly stylish. At best, generic; a heavy, nondescript sans-serif that bears down upon the viewer just as the clean, big-box style of building seems to bear down upon you as you walk up to one.


Go ahead. Go on in. What choice do you have ... you've come this far, yes?


But a bit of teal and a bright yellow starburst (sunburst? Asterisk flying apart?) soften the feeling quite a bit, actually:



Image hotlinked from Wikipedia.
Man, am I phoning it in today.


There actually is style to this. The mixed case and the merging of the historically separated word-parts is more befitting a friendly neighborhood retailer than a corporate behemoth. WAL-MART is a titan, astride the USAan landscape, kicking commercial ass and taking commercial names. "Walmart" is a friendly acquaintance. The "heartless asterisk" is a bright cheery thing, but comes close to being asterisky-enough that you want to start looking for the footnote.


The real creditable bit of style comes in the type. Note how, at the lower corners of the "W" and the "a"s, there is an identical curve. This is a touch that, like the Dude's rug, ties the whole room together and unifies the type in the design. This is subtle cleverness.


All the same, Walmart's new logo reboot will probably result in a lot of scratched heads and a lot of shrugs. Walmart being the loaded topic that is is in the USA today, many will see the rebranding as a cynical attempt at messagesmithing. Walmart's legion of loyal customers will probably like it. It's not world shattering, though. But it is, visually speaking, a whole lot more pleasant than their old look, so we'll give credit where due: it's an appropriate and timely update.


Other notable notes:



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5 comments:

: JustaDog said...

Good luck to them. They employ a huge number of happy workers and provide options to buyers.

Customers obviously like to shop there and customers want shopping options other than union controlled, overpriced stores.

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Walmart haters, be warned! No matter where you are or what you say, if what you say is anything less than completely glowing about Wallyworld, you too can expect to be chastened and dispatched by a couple of easily-countered talking points and a base anti-union canard!

You certainly have put me in my place, yes, sirrah!

stan said...

Just imagine the amount of money that they're going to have to spend re-facing all of their 2,500 stores, repainting their legion of semi-trailers and supplying their 1.5 million employees with new embroidered shirts and nametags.

Maybe they'll save bundles by eliminating all of those pentagrams from their logo ;)

Their new slogan should really be: Save Money. Because Absolutely Everything on Our Shelves is Made in China (I wonder what ol' Sam would think about his proud-to-be-an-Amurrican company becoming nothing more than a behemoth Chinese product retailer.)

BoggyWoggy said...

Arrgh! I wish I hadn't read this post nor seen the new logo! Now it's branded on my brain. I think it's got cult significance. I think its 6 points reveal a much deeper evil. Arrgghhh!

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

We don't shop Walmart at all. Despite what their campaign tells you, it is indeed quite possible to lead an economical life without stepping over the threshold of one.

But if you really look at the situation here, we have an excellent demonstration of ... well, I have a hard time putting my finger on it, but I'm sure Marshall McLuhan would have been able to summarize it.

One of the challenges of logotalk is evaluating the change without all that much reference to the agent. And, from that POV, Walmart's rebranding was quite admirably done; timely, not too much, not too little, knowing use of color and type. I don't know if it can win any awards (not because of bad quality but because it's not all that remarkable in substance) but it was very aptly executed. The Walmart brand was due for an update.

The only fault I find with Walmart's approach, in the media and in public discourse, is an attitude I can only define as arrogant. No corporation is perfect, and I think the case has been made that, despite the boon to consumers in the form of convenience and low prices (which I think it can be argued Walmart itself has made necessary) that consumer gift has come with a huge price in the form of Chinese products of sketchy repute, hollowed out downtowns in small towns were Walmart got its start, and distortion of markets where Walmart calls the wholesale tune. The evidence I think is there for those with eyes to see and a mind to understand.

However, Walmart's response to negative press about it isn't to, where warranted, admit to its mistakes and reform. The only reform that even goes on in the Walmart message is in the message itself, with the inherent assumption that it's not Walmart that's been messing up ... it's us, the public, that just don't understand. We're the ones that just don't get it. A little of that cynical attitude informs the rebranding.