Issue: Wal-Mart adopts a new logo
Commentary by: David Vinjamuri (additional commentary on Fox Business News)
It must be a slow week when a corporate logo change makes news, but that’s where we find ourselves with Walmart as it changes its logo for the first time in sixteen years.
The new logo has three distinguishing points from the old: first it removes the star that separated the ‘Wal’ from ‘Mart’ (a hyphen predated the star). Secondly, the new logo uses upper and lower case where all previous logos were all-caps. Finally, the new logo ads a starburst (or a six-pointed asterisk as we see it) at the end of the logo.
Wal-Mart’s press release sounds almost defensive on the logo update:
This update to the logo is simply a reflection of the refresh taking place inside our stores and our renewed sense of purpose to help people save money so they can live better.
This begs the question of the underlying brand strategy – what is Walmart hoping to accomplish? The answer seems regrettably clear. Walmart is in a strong competitive position given the downturn of the economy. They are using the opportunity to try to take market share from their competitors. Walmart believes that it “owns” working class families – they are value shoppers who are very loyal to Walmart. So the new logo, new tagline, new outfits for employees and freshened store layouts reflect Walmart’s desire to lure upscale customers from Target.
This is a reasonable goal but Walmart is pursuing it in the wrong way. The new logo with a six pointed star at the end (which bears an unfortunate resemblance to an asterisk) reminds us of nothing as much as Target’s logo with the bullseye. The new slogan: “Save Money. Live Better” does have the advantage of reaching an end benefit. But compare it to “Always Low Prices” and you’ll see that it again positions Walmart against Target’s lifestyle marketing.
To be successful, Walmart must stand for working families and focus on offering good products at the lowest everyday prices. When Walmart walks away from this mission it does so at its peril.
Walmart may replace logos and slogans but it should not replace the important mission it created – one which lifted the standard of living for millions of middle class families around the U.S.
Branding Bottom Line: Walmart gets a nice new logo *
* (but it reminds us a lot of Target)