Going to superstores isn’t a big deal these days, but it wasn’t like this all the time. Visit any popular state or town, and you’ll surely find a Target, Kroger, H-E-B or another store that has exactly what you need. However, there’s one name amongst them that stands tall in the crowd and has earned an unrivaled reputation for powerful and effective branding – and that is Walmart.
When Sam Walton decided to open a shop in 1962, he took his brand’s name seriously. While all the similar stores used the full name in the 60s, Sam chose to be different. He used an abbreviated name ‘Walmart’ due to its uniqueness and signboard cost reduction. Fortunately, this was a hit, as was the basic policy of the brand –a wide range of goods at low prices.
The Walmart logo features an exemplary design in branding history and shows how a simple logo can go a long way in keeping your brand etched in public memory. Over time, the design got only better and in sync with the company’s evolving branding techniques. Before we take a detailed look at the Walmart icon, let’s look back at the retail giant’s humble beginnings.
The Birth and Rise of Walmart
Walmart, the world’s largest and most successful retail corporation has a history as rich and fascinating as its legendary logo design. Sam Walton, the founder of the agency, joined the military in 1942 and married Helen Robson the very next year. On his retirement in 1945, Walton along with his wife shifted base to Iowa and then to Newport, Arkansas. He earned a lot of retail experience during this tenure, which ultimately inspired him to open his own variety store in 1950.
Since the competition in the retail industry was still tough back then, Walton adopted a unique selling strategy that changed the company’s fate forever. He slashed his product prices well below those of his contenders. Needless to say, this move affected his profit percentage, though he was quite confident that it would reap benefits in the long run. And he was absolutely correct. By 1967, Walton earned a powerful reputation for itself as a budget-friendly retailer, opening almost 24 different stores in the state of Arkansas.
Walmart had approximately 882 stores in the next 18 years (by 1985), with an annual sales figure of $8.4 billion. The year 1988 was a turning point in the company’s history – aside from Walmart bagging “the most profitable retailer in the US”, it was also when Sam Walton resigned as the company’s CEO and David Glass took over his position.
The 1990s witnessed the peak of Walmart’s growth and success. It was now that the company had stores in all 50 states and a sales amount of $32 billion. Walmart became an international brand in 1991, opening its first overseas branch in Mexico City, Mexico.
There was no looking back for the retail company since then. With 5,229 stores in the US alone and 6,300 global stores, Walmart could churn a whopping $482.1 billion revenue in 2016—quite an impressive figure considering the tough competition Walmart faced recently from its contenders like Amazon and Jet.com.
Aside from its staggering revenue amount, Walmart is known as one of the world’s leading employers, with almost 2.2 million employees across the world. This, along with the company’s incessant charitable contributions and its positive impact on the consumers’ behavior, makes Walmart what it is today. But, what role did the Walmart logo play in its success journey? Let’s see below.
The Iconic Walmart Logo and its History
Although there are countless businesses mushrooming in every nook and corner, there are only certain iconic brands that could stand the test of time. From a simple swoosh to a bitten apple, big brands like Nike, Apple, and Microsoft have their logos imprinted on the audience’s mind.
When it comes to the retail industry, there’s hardly any name that’s as famous and recognizable as Walmart. Over time, the company has earned a matchless reputation for providing a wide range of products at affordable prices. A strong symbol for value and communal unity, the Walmart logo plays a pivotal role in the company’s exemplary success. Now let’s see where it all came from.
Would you be surprised if we said that Walmart was launched without an official logo? For the first two years of the company, when the brand name appeared in print, it did not have any fixed style or letter type. They were used according to the printer’s choice. Introduced in 1950, the first Walmart logo was very basic, featuring the brand name “Walton’s”, as it was known back then.
The scarlet red wordmark, along with the clean and distinct lines, was quite advanced for its times. While the bright color palette gave the logo a striking look, it also evoked a sense of finesse and expertise, thus earning the customers’ trust and confidence. This logo stuck with the company for several years before being redesigned in 1962.
The Walmart Logo (1962-1964)
For the first time, the brand name “Walmart” was used, and the color palette was changed from red to blue. The sans serif font in the wordmark looked more extended than its predecessor. The bold, blue lines of the letters stood for the company’s professionalism and futuristic attitude.
The Walmart Logo 1964-1981
Several versions of the Walmart logo were used between 1964 and 1981. During this period, the company experimented with different designs, mainly debating on whether to hyphenate the brand name “Wal-Mart,” use an asterisk to separate it “Wal*Mart,” or keep the word in its entirety “Walmart.” In the 1964 version, the name “Wal-Mart” was separated by a hyphen. Although the logo looked a bit too dark, gloomy, and congested, it gave the brand a confident personality. The slogans above and below the brand name “EVERYTHING FOR LESS” and “SATISFACTION GUARANTEED” made the logo look a little too crowded.
In 1965, the round emblem was dropped, leaving only the brand name in a heavy sans-serif type. To its right, the phrase “Discount City” could be seen. In 1967, the letters were placed inside rectangles with a thin black border. While the overall style of the typeface was very similar to the previous version, there were also a couple of notable differences. The year 1968 saw a slightly updated version of the typeface. Here, the glyphs were made to look more proportionate with the letters becoming shorter and adopting a square box.
In 1969, the roundel emblem was once again used. While most of the logo looked like the 1964 version, the text in the upper and lower sections of the brand name was changed. “EVERYTHING FOR LESS” and “SATISFACTION GUARANTEED” were replaced with “WE SELL FOR LESS” and “SATISFACTION GUARANTEED By Refund or Exchange”.
The logo was once again modified in 1970, where each of the glyphs was placed within a rectangle. This time, however, the glyphs and the box lines were changed to white, while the backdrop grew black. In 1975, the logo adopted a unique style. The extraordinary typeface and the decorative outline of each letter made the logo unforgettable. In 1977, only a couple of subtle changes were made in the previous Walmart logo design. For example, the hyphen separating the name “WAL-MART” became bolder.
The Walmart Logo (1981-1992)
This time, it was a complete overhaul for the Walmart logo. Not only did it adopt a new shape and font, but also a new shade. The wordmark featured a brown color palette and a regular sans serif font. The most unusual and striking part of the logo was the lack of space between the letters, especially between the “L” and “M.” In 1992, although the type remained somewhat the same, it adorned a new color. It was now dark blue and the hyphen was swapped for a star, which gave a distinctive character to the logo.
The Walmart Logo (2008-Present)
In 2008, the Walmart logo underwent the major and most important of all changes till date. All the letters, except the first one “W”, were in lowercase and the former geometric font was replaced by a rounded, friendlier one. However, the most notable feature is the iconic star on the right side of the wordmark. This bright, yellow star gave the logo a happy and positive feel. The blue color of the wordmark, along with the color and shape of the emblem reminded us of joyful sunrays.
There are certain occasions where the brand uses only the spark for its identity, such as in their mobile apps and official websites. It’s also common to see the spark on brand signage for their offline promotions. The company’s key motive behind transitioning to a brand new logo in 2008 was to shift their focus from promoting only discounted products to being an organization that uses new and effective branding strategies.
Significance of the Walmart Logo
Since Walmart’s journey began in 1962, the organization has only improved itself by offering new range of products, services, expanding business to multiple continents, and improvising its e-commerce website. During this tenure, they’ve also worked on improving their brand logo that perfectly represents their values and objectives.
The present Walmart logo suggests the friendly and amicable nature of the company, perfectly depicted by its blue calming palette and bold white font. The yellow emblem on the right represents a ‘spark’, signifying a happy shopping experience for their consumers, as they will likely find the desired products or services at Walmart. As seen in the company’s official website, the new logo is “a symbol of all of the great ideas that have helped to develop our company over the years. And it’s a symbol of the inspiration that’s inside all of us.” Both the font color and design of the logo have helped the brand maintain their core values, while also creating a positive atmosphere within their stores.
Color Scheme of the Walmart Logo
Since 1992, Walmart had changed its logo color to its original blue shade, thus emphasizing the traditional and friendly nature of the brand. Since Walmart is known for offering a wide range of products at highly competitive prices, the sky blue color rightly depicts the brand’s wholesome feel! The vibrant yellow spark adds a striking element to the logo, making it stand out with its enriching design and color scheme.
According to researchers and branding color psychology, the color blue is believed to evoke feelings of trust, peace, loyalty, and competence, which rightly substantiate why Walmart has chosen this shade for their brand identity. Blue is also typically a soothing color that neither hurts your eyes nor over stimulates your senses.
Walmart gives a valuable lesson in rebranding and logo redesign. Instead of undergoing a major rebranding (as many companies do), Walmart’s logo had only subtle modifications over the years. Although many are of the view that the current Walmart logo is too simple and boring, it has lasted since 2008 because it works for the company. Thanks to their quality products and services, Walmart never needed something loud to establish their identity, it just needed to be different from the others. Even the slightest changes suggested a new beginning for Walmart. And this is exactly how big brands work, right?
Head of Design at DesignBro and is responsible for UI/UX Design, managing the global designer community, and ensuring quality levels of both designers and designs remain high.