In what has to be the most under whelming unveiling yet — and a bad case of stolen thunder — for one of the largest retailers in the world, Walmart (unhyphenated as a single word from now on) just uploaded a formal, band-aid of a press release to their web site confirming the logo change that surfaced over the weekend when The Wall Street Journal reported that the Memphis and Shelby County Division of Planning and Development had received documents from Walmart with the intent of opening a prototype store there. An artist rendering on those documents showed a new sign over the facade of the proposed store.
Artist rendering of the new signage. All I can say, though, is “Really? This is the best Walmart can do when it comes to renderings?” Oy.
As a reason of why the logo change, the reports on newspapers all allude to Walmart’s continued evolution and progression from its less-than-glamorous reputation and image as an invasive retailer with less-than-desirable employment and environmental practices. And the evasive press release does little to explain anything:
But what really matters is what happens out there in the stores. 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.
So with no reasoning or no explanation of what the new star burst stands for, or why the decision to change to a single word, all we have to go by is the logo that replaces the 16-year-old sans serif that was as thick and heavy as the beige boxes it adorned for so long. The new logo is rumored to have been designed by New York-based Lippincott — and I will happily amend this as soon as there is more information available. The change to title case helps humanize Walmart with a name that reads more like John, Albert, Sarah or Wilbur; it really looks very different and sets a different tone. The wordmark is nice and friendly and has enough customization to feel more proprietary than out-of-the-box. The new icon, however, is very questionable. It reflects technology start-up or telecommunications company before it does discount retailing that will make anyone live better. Sure, it might represent a flower or a sun, but the execution is too modern and cold to be seen as a natural element.
The new store environment and applications of the logo will define how good this can be and if the whole package supports this initial tease. I remain skeptical yet optimistic, but not too much. To leave you with some inspiration, here are Walmarts’ logos over the years, picked from this page — do note the tuscan-faced logo of the 1960s, wow.
Thanks to everyone who e-mailed over the last three days about this logo.