Marketing Genius from Maple Creative


Marketing tips, observations & philosophy, plus a few rants and random musings - from those who practice, preach and teach marketing, research, advertising, public relations and business strategy.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wal-Mart's New Brand Icon

Has anyone noticed the new symbol that Wal-Mart has begun using lately? And, oh by the way, it's now Walmart, instead of Wal-Mart. They dropped the hypen.

It's that small yellowish starburst "thingy" (shown in the image at left). I'll refer to it as their brand icon. And while it does follow the old Walmart star with some degree of connection (which is good), I am not loving the design.

Instantly when I saw it, the icon reminded me of another brand. It took about 2.5 seconds for my brain to recall the resemblance.

It quickly reminded me of the Holiday Inn brand. The iconography is pretty similar. The new Walmart starburst icon suggests the old Holiday Inn icon--at least in my brain it does.

Now, I'm not saying that the two icons are identical. They're not. But if I thought it, there's bound to be 10,000 others who will have the same impression. That's not good.

When you have a budget the magnitude of Walmart's, maybe you just assume that you can erase and overcome those other-brand associations through the sheer number of impressions. It possible, but it's an expensive proposition. It would have been better to design something more unique.

Walmart will spend tens of millions to re-brand the starburst symbol in our brains, reprogramming us through visual repetitions so that some time in the future a yellowish-gold starburst object (one blogger referred to it as a "cat butt") will make us think primarily of Walmart. Gee, I can hardly wait. [sarcasm]

Are any marketing geniuses out there more excited about this than I am?

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Anonymous Adam said...

I've recently noticed many walmarts changing to green instead of blue, which I think is quite odd, because they don't look anything like this new logo.

9:18 AM

Blogger Carrie said...

Unfortunately, it's an example of a bad logo that got worse.
The new logo has a cheapened feel...seems like they have tried to use a brighter color-scheme to have more visual appeal and to me, this has created a retro or 70's vibe--which I'm sure was not the intention.

My opinion: two thumbs down.

1:46 PM

Blogger some asian guy said...

you're talking to a guy who likes the old holiday inn signs more than the "new" ones they've been using for 20-some years.

that having been said, the new walmart logo never put me in mind of the holiday inn.

while i'm as underwhelmed by their ads/branding as you all are, i think what they're going for is something bright and less clunky than their old logo.

the use of the caps and lower case looks less monolithic -- with its evil empire connotations -- and more friendly with happy curves and fewer threatening angles of the previous logo's all bold caps.

plus the asterisk makes it more internety and text messagey and modern -- you know, for the kids ... who'd really rather be at target.

there was a wire story this summer in which walmart was congratulating itself for its latest marketing and image campaign bolstering its profits over last year.

apparently no one seemed to mention that when no one has money, they go to where they think things are cheaper.

so, to answer your question as a nonmarketing genius, for what it is and what it's trying to do, it's not bad. friendly. bright. non-self-conscious.

however, i am even less excited about their new look than you are.

11:08 PM

Blogger Mike Bawden said...


The thing that bugs me about this new logo for Walmart is that the mark looks like an asterisk - a symbol usually used to indicate that there are some additional conditions that may apply to an offer. This "strings attached" mark seems to fly in the face of a company whose positioning relies on a low price guarantee.

Of course, I wrote more about this on my blog at Brand Central Station.

Mike Bawden
Brand Central Station

11:48 PM

Blogger Adam Snider said...

Interesting thoughts all around on this new logo. While I don't think of the Holiday Inn when I see it, I agree that it's a subpar logo. I can't quite place my finger on what's wrong with it, though.

One thing that's interesting is that Wal-Mart Canada doesn't seem to be using it (yet). has the new logo, but still uses the old one. I wonder why.

1:41 PM

Blogger Lauren said...

check out the suddenlink logo too:

9:00 AM

Blogger Skip Lineberg said...


Oh my gosh! It's the same symbol. Thanks for adding this to the discussion.


10:44 PM

Blogger Skip Lineberg said...


Thanks for joining the discussion ... and bringing the Canadian perspective! Hey - by the way - is the Maple leaf on your flag?!


10:45 PM

Blogger Skip Lineberg said...


Thanks for adding your insightful perspective to the discussion. Great point about the asterisk. I hadn't thought of that.


10:49 PM

Blogger Skip Lineberg said...

some asian guy-

Loved your comment! Thanks for joining the discussion. You've added some outstanding counterpoints. And what a great photo image of the old Holiday Inn signage! Hope you'll come back often.


10:51 PM

Blogger Skip Lineberg said...


Thanks for joining the discussion. I really appreciate your perspective!


10:52 PM

Blogger Skip Lineberg said...

adam -

Green, eh? I'll be on the lookout. That is really random... and not good, in terms of brand consistency (which is of huge importance in a rebranding application). Thank you for your comment.


10:54 PM

Blogger Adam Snider said...

Yes...the maple leaf is on our flag. Is there a joke that I'm missing out on?

12:45 AM

Blogger Skip Lineberg said...


Just a little innocent Mapleonian humor. My company is Maple Creative and the maple leaf is part of our brand icon.


1:28 AM


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