Monday, June 30, 2008

Orange You Glad to Shop at Wal-Mart?

Rumour has it that Wal-Mart will be changing up its branding -- and it looks the retail giant is going Dutch.

According to this story first reported in the Wall Street Journal, Wal-Mart will be dropping the hyphen/star from its name, and its new logo will show the company name in white letters against an orange background, followed by a small starburst. In case you've been trapped on a desert island for the past decade or two, you'll know that the current Wal-Mart logo is white lettering against a blue backdrop with red stripes along the top and bottom.

According to the article, the redesigned, "friendlier" logo is in response to growing criticism from unions, environmental groups, and communities opposed to big-box store developments. This new look will apparently be phased in across the chain's 3,600 U.S. stores starting this fall (no word on whether the Canadian stores can expect to change over).

So, Wal-Mart is going orange. But why? When Marketing Breakthroughs creates a new brand for a client, colour is one of the key elements that has to be considered.

Like most colours, orange is somewhat of a mixed bag in terms of what it can represent. On one hand, it can indeed portray friendliness, ambition, and energy, which is what Wal-Mart (or should I say Walmart) is definitely looking for. However, orange can also be seen as a dated and retro colour, and it is also the colour of hunger, which is why it has been used by so many fast food joints over the years.

Orange certainly isn't the traditional big-box retailer colour (most big chain stores tend to use blues and red -- Best Buy, Future Shop, Zellers, Canadian Tire, Home Hardware, Rogers Video, Blockbuster, Loeb, etc.). However, Home Depot has been using the colour quite effectively, and the fact that orange is now associated with Home Depot might not help Wal-Mart's attempt to claim the colour as its own in a way to distance itself from the other "corporate" red and blue big-box chain -- especially since Home Depot is the #2 retail chain behind Wal-Mart!

So, what do you think of the new Orange Walmart? Yay? Nay? Indifferent? Better than the smiley face, at any rate. Unless they turn him orange too ...