Walmart recently unveiled their new logo sporting a hyphen-less, one word logotype with smooth, round letterforms and a yellow asterisk. This may go unnoticed to the casual viewer, but some are wondering, why the change? Walmart will most likely be spending millions of dollars to change store signage and truck graphics over the next several years, and all for a simple logo change?
At first glance, the new logo may seem boring and intentionally safe, exactly what one would expect from a powerhouse, mega-company trying to soften their image. In comparison, the previous logo was stamped with patriotism; a red, white and blue palette with a star to replace the hyphen. The updated logotype has been set in lowercase, rounded, and the colors have been toned down to a gentler blue and marigold.
These particular changes may go unnoticed by some, but it will be hard to not notice that their local store has taken a step toward the “softer side”. This can be interpreted as an attempt by Walmart to let the public know that they are “going green”, which in fact, they are trying to do (I can’t help but be impressed by the company’s efforts to reduce energy use, maximize fuel efficiency in their trucks, and reduce packaging.) The logo may look generic or safe, but in some ways, Walmart is exercising clever tactics by employing the typical “green marketing” attributes like rounded letterforms and natural colors. They recognize the style of current product packaging and labels, such as those found in the natural food market, and are taking advantage of those trends to influence prospective customers.
While average customers may notice the new logo, or at least its resemblance to an organic food product label, the modified mark will most likely not deter them from shopping at Walmart. However, it may influence prospective customers to visit the store after seeing the softer, cleaner, friendlier brand. If, in fact, Walmart understands that the majority of the public will interpret the new logo in this manner, the refresh would be quite intelligent.
Overall, I feel the previous mark was not the strongest, most successful logo, but it had a strong recognition value. It said, “We are Walmart, we’re huge and we know it.” Throw that star in there, and it says “Yep, we love America just like you.” The new warm and fuzzy sunshine logo will obviously become well known because of the establishment behind it, but looks like it could be found for sale on a logo creation web site for cheap. Don’t get me wrong, I believe Walmart may have made an intelligent move by taking the safe route: a generic logo that is in line with current trends; but I do think the new logo could be drastically improved by removing the tacky sun/asterisk/flower element, allowing the logotype to do the talking.
By: Neil Ryan, designer