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Clean up Aisle 5 - Walgreens Needs New Logo

This weekend I accompanied my wife to Chicago’s Public Library — talk about the power of design, try choosing a book without being able to look at the covers — and we walked by some historically important (I guess) Walgreens. It had some nice vintage photos of some of their first stores, some history on Charles R. Walgreen, Sr. and it was closed. Sad because we wanted to buy some stuff.

We also noticed this different rendering of the Walgreens logo. Wow. Was it a new logo they were trying? Was it a really old one? Then, on one of the vintage photos was this other iteration of the logo. Amazing. Who the hell decided to use the current logo instead of those other two beauties? Probably some CEO, but we have that discussion covered under UPS’ redesign.

My point is, Walgreens — Get yourselves a new logo. The one you have right now is so outdated Hugh Hefner is more in fashion. Seriously, how long has it been since they’ve had that logo? If they wanted to keep their scripty theme going, imagine what the guys at Underware could do for them, or House Industries, Louise Fili could make something extraordinary.

As much as they have tried to embellish the logo on TV with their little flying stars, it’s not enough. As opposed to UPS, I think Walgreens does need a rebranding.

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ENTRY DETAILS
ARCHIVE ID 1429 FILED UNDER Branding and Identity
PUBLISHED ON Apr.16.2003 BY Armin
WITH COMMENTS
Comments
TOM’s comment is:

Sounds like a pretty logo art critique rather than a brand strategic reasoning for company to spend money, time and effort to redesign. We have touched on this before, but you are expressing a subjective opinion about Walgreens and UPS, without knowing their business.

From an aesthetic view, I agree, it could be better. But like the More Than Artists? comments from Clement Mok, clients don't expect us to be able to add real value to their business because of subjective thoughts of Get yourselves a new logo.

Look, I know I am guilty of this as well, but I think too many times we(designers) think of the possibilities of design solutions based on how a logo will look in CA as opposed to how it will look on the side of a building or truck.

On Apr.16.2003 at 10:12 AM
armin’s comment is:

Oh shut up Tom! : )

I know it's a subjective opinion. I know "Get yourselves a new logo" is not a valid business reason to rebrand. I also know, well, I believe (strongly) that Walgreens would benefit immensely from a rebranding. All the stores look old, their uniforms haven't changed in ages but they are the leading drug store in America and their brand does not represent that. At all. Except, maybe, it stands for their longevity. So, yeah I'm saying it is an ugly logo based on subjective thoughts. But...

Let's take again the example of UPS. They rebranded because they do more than shipping now, and because strings on packages are not allowed, so the logo did not represent their full capabilities. How then, does Walgreens little mortar and stars represent Walgreens? When was the last time you waited for the pharmacist to grind your prescription? And what about all the incredible amount of crap they sell? Wouldn't Walgreens benefit from a new logo that could represent their current features?

I think they would.

>but I think too many times we(designers) think of the possibilities of design solutions based on how a logo will look in CA

That is the least of my worries. In the last year my perceptions of awards and stuff like that have changed dramatically, and mainly because of all the comments I've heard in here. So, that is never a concern for me.

On Apr.16.2003 at 10:28 AM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

I agree. Astetically it's ugly, but like Tom said, does it warrant the time, money and effort to create and distribute a new logo based on our asthetically bias and purley visual opinion?

Now I'm no stockbroker or financial guru, but based on some statistics on their web site, it looks as if Walgreens shoppers and shareholders don't care that the logo is ugly.

>Walgreens, the nation's largest drugstore chain, reported on March 24 record sales for the second quarter ended Feb. 28, 2003, of $8.4 billion, up 12.8 percent from a year earlier. Earnings were up 13.6 percent from a year ago to a record $371 million. The company operates 4,014 drugstores in 43 states and Puerto Rico and plans to open approximately 425 new stores in fiscal 2003 and 7,000 planned by 2010.

I don't know much about the heritage of CVS or Duane Reade, but to me their logos are just as dumpy.

On Apr.16.2003 at 10:39 AM
TOM’s comment is:

Ooh! Yeah! This is fun! Put'm up! Put'm up!

No seriously, I know my comments probably read a little harsh, but that's because you couldn't hear my southern inflections and I am in the middle of making some serious changes with one client and meeting next week with another that is considering "updating their graphics".

> All the stores look old, their uniforms haven't changed in ages but they are the leading drug store in America and their brand does not represent that.

Down here in Georgia, all the Walgreens are the newest, cleanest stores. So my perception is very different. If their brand strategy is to retain the "ole' reliable corner drug" then the current logo might be fine. Might Be!! Maybe design efforts should be focused on store interiors, uniforms, color schemes, etc.

So all that aside, if we see a business that we believe needs an updated look... how would you approach Walgreens and discuss all this? How do we convince CEO's, etc. to allow design to add value and pay us appropriately?

On Apr.16.2003 at 10:52 AM
jonsel’s comment is:

What would really need to be done here is to conduct some research into customer perceptions of Walgreens. It may be that they are slowly upgrading their stores, but just started in Georgia and haven't hit the Chicagoland are yet. Some consumer insight is the first place to start to determine whether Walgreen's perception of itself matches its customers' ideas.

This might be the best way to approach a company like this: offer to do an assessment of their current brand. When the numbers and opinions point you in the direction of a redesign or update, then it's easier to sell-in that portion. Of course, many small design firms aren't in a position to offer this kind of strategic service, but it is what the big CEO's listen to.

Another thing I might add is that companies in leadership positions generally work to keep their image up-to-date. They don't wait for their materials and identity to lag behind their audiences perceptions.

On Apr.16.2003 at 11:07 AM
anthony’s comment is:

The sheer cost of implementing a change like this across all current signage, uniforms and media, sounds too prohibitive to me, without some type of impetus like a name change or merger or something, add some value to the mix. The similarity between the two wal companies might be enough for that though, or is that just the low price Americana market logo style I guess, red white blue and stars.

On Apr.16.2003 at 11:10 AM
rebecca’s comment is:

I don't know. I think the previous logos are charming for nostalgic reasons more than aesthetic ones. I do find the old logos attractive, but I would venture to guess that the current logo (which I have never much cared for either) will offer a similar nostalgic appeal in thirty years.

{Note to self: reevaluate Walgreens logo in 2033.}

On Apr.16.2003 at 11:56 AM
Damien’s comment is:

Wouldn't Walgreens benefit from a new logo that could represent their current features?

Not really, no.

There are many programs developed that can monitor and measure the success of a brand, based on awareness, perception and value. Firms like Interbrand, Futurebrand and Y&R offer these programs to research and alalyse this data. So it can be an easy sell to a large corporate CEO when it is easily possible to show the dollar value of a brand. Its a useful statistic that Coke's market cap, including brand value is about 120bn dollars and without only 50bn.

But I don't think that ever argues that a company needs a new logo or a rebranding exercise. It only presents that if you spend enough money, and manage it right, any logo or branding will have an impact.

I think we, as designers, need to remember what a logo is and what it really does for a company. It does nothing on its own but helps in an overal plan. In the same way that potters mark their ceramics, a logo is just a signature for a product or organization. And its only the combined efforts of the company's activities, behavour, experience, selling and support that make that logo or mark mean anything.

So when doing research, its not enough to simply ask if a store's logo looks tired or out of date. But you have to ask the customers what else that company could do to improve itself. I warrant that fixing the identity may be lower on the list than we'd like. If thats the case then I'd rather see a company improve itself way before it redesigned its image.

UPS wanted to reposition itself and I hope we see that it does it efficiently, consistently and along the way offers a better and improved service. Otherwise the rebranding will have been a waste of money and time.

I never think a logo should represent the current features of a product or company. I think it should represent the type of mark or signature a company feels proud to put on its products that their customers will in turn be pleased and satisfied to own.

On Apr.16.2003 at 12:16 PM
pk’s comment is:

walgreens is amplifying their branding. you'll notice that they're running a highly conceptual ad series on TV now. and they're also beginning to focus more on that apothecary mortar'n'stars thing than the actual typography.

On Apr.16.2003 at 12:54 PM
Garrison’s comment is:

Walgreens ... whatever. What's up with UPS trying to get me to call it "Brown"? I don't know about everyone else, but when the word "brown" is repeated to me so many times in a television commercial, I only think of one thing, and it's not air freight.

On Apr.16.2003 at 03:11 PM
anthony’s comment is:

Why aisle 5?

On Apr.16.2003 at 04:00 PM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

>Chicago's Public Library

This is way off topic, but it reminds me of Boston's public library.

On Apr.16.2003 at 04:03 PM
armin’s comment is:

Sorry, I didn't mean to drop off the conversation just like that. Here goes:

>Why aisle 5?

You know... like when they say through the little microphone to get people to clean up. Why aisle number 5? no clue, first number that popped into my head.

>will offer a similar nostalgic appeal in thirty years.

I can't remember where I was reading this, but they were talking about trends, and how it takes 30 years for a look to reemerge as a trend for designers. Like late 90's was all about the 60's and early this decade the 70's are all fashiony and stuff. That means in 2010 the 80's will resurface. God have mercy on our souls.

>and they're also beginning to focus more on that apothecary mortar'n'stars thing than the actual typography.

Yeah, I have noticed that, I mentioned it in the original post and it definitely caught my eye. But like everyone says, do people that are non-designers really care that the little stars fly in from the bottom of the screen really smoothly, with a sligh red flash? It's the same question that will always hinder our profession.

Now on to Damien's comments:

>I think we, as designers, need to remember what a logo is and what it really does for a company. It does nothing on its own but helps in an overal plan.

I agree, it's part of a plan, but it's one of the most immediate triggers of recognition, as it is usually in all parts of the plan. Why have a great plan with {objective opinion coming} an ugly logo? Doesn't make much sense does it? The plan should take into consideration everything to make it great, and a strong logo should be part of it. Even if it's just a small part.

>So when doing research, its not enough to simply ask if a store's logo looks tired or out of date.

With that I completely agree. It would be too close-minded to do so.

>I never think a logo should represent the current features of a product or company.

Well, I think it should. Maybe this is just a matter of semantics and we could go on and on, but if a logo doesn't represent and reflect the features of a product or company then why have a logo at all?

>I think it should represent the type of mark or signature a company feels proud to put on its products that their customers will in turn be pleased and satisfied to own.

That should just be an added bonus, not the rule of thumb.

> when the word "brown" is repeated to me so many times in a television commercial, I only think of one thing, and it's not air freight.

You mean poop?

On Apr.16.2003 at 04:40 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

if a logo doesn't represent and reflect the features of a product or company then why have a logo at all?

This only works for smaller, more focused companies. Larger organizations need an identity that reflects their values, not their products. Their products and services are reflections of those values as well, but quite often will change over time. Some services may be fazed out, while newer ones take their place. If your logo invoked one of these fading services or discontinued products, then you almost end up like UPS, with a string-tied package that you no longer deliver. (Yes, yes, I loved it too.)

On Apr.16.2003 at 05:58 PM
Armin’s comment is:

>No seriously, I know my comments probably read a little harsh, but that's because you couldn't hear my southern inflections.

You couldn't hurt a fly Tom. And I just picture you eating a double chocolate chunk from brusters.

On Apr.16.2003 at 08:59 PM
Arturo’s comment is:

“Take Walgreens. For more than 40 years, Walgreens was no more than an average company, tracking the general market. Then in 1975 (out of the blue!) Walgreens began to climb. And climb. And climb. It just kept climbing. From December 31, 1975 to January 1, 2000, one dollar invested in Walgreens beat one dollar invested in Intel by nearly 2 times, General Electric by nearly 5 times, and Coca-Cola by nearly 8 times. It beat the general stock market by more than 15 times.” from Fastcompany.com, so that’s why�

I can agree with you Armin, all the iterations of the Walgreens logo look outdated but� Maybe that how they want it to look like, we need more questions:

How is their average customer? Their behavior? Shopping habits? Culture? In order to have this kind of business performance, they must understand their customers very well and I think they really do.

There is a question for Walgreens: Why not be a great company financially speaking and look good too? Maybe you can’t have everything in life; So� watch out don’t buy stocks because the logo looks great ;-)

On Apr.16.2003 at 11:21 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

Here. I'll close the italics.

On Apr.17.2003 at 11:01 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

but they are the leading drug store in America

Well, there's your answer. They are the leading drug store. So why change the logo? Their brand already is cemented in the consumer's mind. Ask a consumer about Walgreens and they will most likely say it's their drugstore, it's convenient, etc, etc. and will most likely not say a single thing about the logo.

On Apr.17.2003 at 11:03 AM
Tan’s comment is:

Walgreens' script type is supposed to remind you of the embroidered name on the pharmacists' labcoats. You know, "Ed Johnson" or some typical 45 year-old pharmacist standing behind (and slightly higher) the pharmacy counter.

That would be my first guess to explain the outdated (or nostalgic from a certain p.o.v.) and scripty logotype.

Given this context, maybe it's not so inappropriate.

On Apr.23.2003 at 08:02 PM
armin’s comment is:

>Walgreens' script type is supposed to remind you of the embroidered name on the pharmacists' labcoats.

Hm. No way!

Way.

On Apr.24.2003 at 03:39 PM
Tan’s comment is:

on second thought...maybe not.

I was just making shit up.

It's a crappy logo. Aren't all pharmacies' though?

Anyone know of a drugstore logo that looks good? And what's with the smell that they all have?

On Apr.24.2003 at 07:43 PM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

You may have gotten your wish Armin, for better or worse. Two of the local Walgreens stores now have this logo gracing their exterior. Ditto Tan, they all seem to suck.

On Sep.10.2003 at 11:36 AM
Armin’s comment is:

Actually, I heard on the news two days ago that there was a poll conducted regarding Walgreens' stores and people complained that the stores were very lame, bland and boring. And that to make it better they would need bigger changes than putting up shitty (my words, not the newscaster's) POP's.

I'm gonna call somebody at Walgreens, see if I can hook 'em up with a bitchin' logo.

On Sep.10.2003 at 11:39 AM
Tan’s comment is:

send them Andrew' Coal Creek logo. Buy some drugs for the family, go to heaven.

sorry Andy, couldn't resist.

On Sep.10.2003 at 01:04 PM
Mark ’s comment is:

If anyone is wondering how OLD Walgreens logo is then check out this pic from the 1960s I found on Ebay!

Would anyone mind changing Walgreens logo to the one shown here?

Or maybe the logo seen in this pic? You have to look closely for it

On Aug.18.2005 at 03:48 PM
Mark’s comment is:

Would anyone mind changing Walgreens logo to the one shown here?

Heres the second pic I was trying to post

and another idea from 1926

On Aug.18.2005 at 03:54 PM
DC1974’s comment is:

What's more interesting, historically, anyway, is that's they went from being Walgreen to Walgreen's to Walgreens (like Quizno's went to Quiznos).

Walgreens logo always made more sense to me with its connection to Wags. The restaurant they spawned and which I spent many of my suburban Chicago weekend evenings hanging out.

CVS, with their helvetica logo (and the dropping of what the CVS actually stands for) is a lot nicer of an identity. Their recent rebranding of all their CVS brand products with Emigre's Tarzanna is nice too. Very modern.

It doesn't match up to the new Target drug bottle. But it's a pretty contemporary brand all-around for a mass market pharmacy in the U.S.

On Aug.18.2005 at 05:35 PM
artbitz’s comment is:

Their brand already is cemented in the consumer's mind.

For better or worse, I run across more than my share of companies with that problem, and the result is trying to design around a really bad existing logo.

On Jul.05.2006 at 02:17 PM
TM’s comment is:

I work for Walgreens. We will be getting new uniforms this fall, and they are nicer, in my opinion. Woven shirts and polo shirts. (Which the polo shirts are eh...)

On Jun.13.2007 at 11:55 PM