The is the History of Walmart and their Logo Design
The king of retail, Walmart is by far the most successful chain of stores in the world today. Though the company has seen some stiff challenge as of late from e-commerce platforms, Walmart still reigns supreme across the world as the go-to supplier for an incredibly wide range of products. In this article, we’ll take a look at the history of Walmart and the role the company’s logo played in their gargantuan success.
Origins of Walmart
Sam Walton, the legendary founder of Walmart, opened his first retail store in 1950 in Bentonville, Arkansas. Right away, Walton adopted a simple yet unrivaled business strategy. He lowered prices well below those of his competitors. It was a move that slashed his profit margins, but one that Walton was confident would pay for itself in increased sales. He was right, and by 1967 Walton’s business model was successful enough to support 24 different stores across the state of Arkansas.
By 1985, Walmart had 882 stores across the nation with sales that year totaling $8.4 billion. By 1988, Walmart was the most profitable retailer in the US. 1988 was also the year that Sam Walton stepped down as the company’s CEO, turning the job over to David Glass. Though already an unprecedented success, the 1990s saw Walmart achieve an unbelievable flurry of growth. In 1990, Walmart had sales totaling $32 billion and locations in all 50 states. In 1991, the company went worldwide, opening their first international store in Mexico City, Mexico.
Since then, Walmart hasn’t looked back. With 5,229 stores in the US and 6,300 international stores, Walmart was able to generate a revenue of $482.1 billion in 2016—a figure that is even more impressive considering the stiff competition Walmart has faced in recent years from e-commerce rivals such as Amazon and Jet.com. Along with raking in a staggering amount of revenue, Walmart is also one of the largest employers in the world with approximately 2.2 million employees worldwide. This combined with the company’s never-ending list of charitable contributions and the positive impact the company’s affordable prices have made in the lives of shoppers across the world makes Walmart a success that extends beyond zeros in front of a dollar sign.
What role, though, did Walmart’s logo play in this success, and how did it come to be?
History of the Walmart Logo
The Walmart logo is one that has undergone several different iterations over the years. The first logo that Sam Walton used was pretty basic, and not a lot of emphasis was placed on its design. Over the years, the company played around with several different designs, mostly flip-flopping on whether to hyphenate the company name in the logo to read “Wal-Mart”, separate it with an asterisk as in “Wal*Mart”, or push the words together to read “Walmart”. Though all of these designs saw usage over the years, the company eventually settled on the latter in 2008.
Today, the company’s logo features the word “Walmart” spelled out in all lowercase letters accented on the end by a yellow sunburst the company refers to as “the spark”. This logo marks the sixth version of the company’s logo, and it was reportedly designed to make shopping at the store more attractive to higher income families.
Anand Kumar, a University of South Florida marketing professor, said of the new logo that “People aren’t going to change stores because of a logo, but the old one associated Walmart with cheap. Along with store improvements, this will help change perceptions.”
Meanwhile, Linda Blakley, spokeswoman for the Bentonville, Ark., chain, commented on the new logo saying that “We wanted something softer, friendlier and warmer. The spark is the spirit of our company: innovation, inspiration and people working harder to bring prices down.”
If nothing else, the numerous changes of the Walmart logo and the reasoning behind them shows the significance that companies as successful as Walmart place on details such as their logo design.
Design Elements of the Walmart Logo
Before the most recent logo was unveiled, Walmart used a logo that sported a red, white, and blue color scheme in an attempt to invoke patriotic appeal to their still largely USA-centric customer base. The latest logo, though, was designed using a soft blue and yellow scheme in an attempt to be more welcoming and inviting to their customers across the world.
The change was also necessary due to the fact that Walmart was trying to rebrand themselves at the time to do away with their image as a cheap, lower-class company. Walmart knew that switching logos was an important part of changing their image and associations, regardless of whether or not the old logo was effective, and decided to go with a completely new design that would be the new face of the rebranded company.
Concerning the purpose of the spark in the logo, Linda Blakely said it best by pointing out that the spark is a symbol for innovation and inspiration—both things that have driven the company forward over the years.
Popularity of the Walmart Logo
When you run a company as big and influential as Walmart, everyone is going to have an opinion about your every move. Concerning the decision to go with the new logo, people voiced a lot of criticism, saying that the design was uninspired and describing the spark as looking like everything from an asterisk to a sphincter.
Regardless of whether the design for Walmart’s new logo was uninspired, it still served its purpose well. In Walmart’s case, the new logo didn’t have to be completely innovative and original, it just had to be different from their old one—something that would represent a fresh start and a new direction for the company.
This is an important lesson for anyone considering rebranding. If you are aiming to drastically change the image of your company, you will need to get rid of the things people associate with the company’s old branding. No matter how much you change about the mission, function, and marketing of a company, people will have a hard time seeing it as any different if it is still represented by the same logo. Executives at Walmart realized this and chose a fresh, new logo to represent their company going forward.