Walmart has built a reputation as an affordable retailer. Today, the Walmart logo is one of the most instantly recognized images in branding. It’s simple and effective, symbolizing great value and strong community ties.
So, how did the Walmart logo evolve from its days as a small-town discount store into the retail giant it is today? Keep reading to find out.
In the 1950s, Sam Walton opened a five-and-dime store in downtown Bentonville, Arkansas (you can check out the Walmart Museum if you’re ever in the area). Inspired by 5&10’s success, Walton opened the first Walmart in 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas.
In its early years, Walmart focused on rural areas to avoid competing with retail giants like Sears and Kmart. By emphasizing customer attention, low costs, and efficient distribution networks, Walmart became the largest retailer in the U.S. by 1990. By 2001, Walmart’s total sales surpassed Exxon Mobil and ranked as the largest corporation in the world.
Sam Walton was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George H. W. Bush in 1992 for his commitment to helping individuals, businesses, and the country succeed. During Walton’s acceptance speech, he expressed what would become the company’s driving purpose. He said, “If we work together, we’ll lower the cost of living for everyone…we’ll give the world an opportunity to see what it’s like to save and have a better life.” That thread is woven into each logo design over the years of Walmart’s evolution.
The Walmart logo has undergone several redesigns over the years. Although nothing too drastic changed, there are some notable differences from the first logo to the current one.
The first Walmart logo was a simple, no bells and whistles design. In their early years, Walmart didn’t include an icon and stuck with a single color palette. Instead, they used their company name written in a sans-serif blue font.
Sticking to their rural roots, the new Walmart logo took on a Western twist. The other notable difference aside from the Frontier font was the hyphen separating the words “Wal” and “Mart.” Walmart flip-flopped over the years on whether to hyphenate the company name in the logo or to leave it as one word. Here they tried out separating the 2. You might also notice that the blue color palette was replaced with simple black.
Walmart kept the Frontier font and enclosed it in an emblem-style logo from 1968 to 1991. This version included 2 slogans: “We sell for less” and “Satisfaction guaranteed.” It also included a secondary name “Discount City” which they later removed.
An emblem was an interesting choice for Walmart. Being one of the oldest forms of a logo, an emblem logo is a great way to express a business’s traditional roots. During this time, Walmart was expanding rapidly, so they might have gone with an emblem logo to remind their original target audience (rural America) that they haven’t forgotten them.
The 1981 logo overhaul stripped the logo of everything but the company’s name. The original sans-serif font made a comeback, although this time the font was bolder with very little space between the letters. Unlike the original ‘62 logo, they went with brown as opposed to blue to hint at their rustic roots.
The most noticeable change in the 1992 logo was the hyphen between “Wal” and “Mart” was changed into a star. The font stayed pretty much the same, just maybe stretched out a little further giving the logo more breathing room. Also, they decided to go back to blue. Blue is a solid color choice for many businesses because it symbolizes professionalism, intelligence, and modernity.
Walmart’s last major redesign saw a lot of big changes. First, they changed the font so that all the letters aside from “W” were lowercase, and the gap between “Wal” and “Mart” disappeared entirely. Second, they toned down the dark blue to a lighter shade, which gave it a more youthful look.
Third, the star that acted as the hyphen previously was turned into an abstract spark at the end of the logo. The yellow spark has become so well known that when it’s used alone, such as on apps and websites, it’s instantly recognizable. The spark symbolizes innovation, inspiration, and leadership.
Walmart’s logo has come a long way since the company was founded in 1962. After years of relying on their name alone, Walmart added the spark icon and never looked back. The spark adds something special to Walmart’s identity that was missing before, right? Today, Walmart’s logo is youthful, innovative, and simple while still managing to be unique and memorable
The information provided on this page is for information, educational, and/or editorial purposes only. It is not intended to indicate any affiliation between Tailor Brands and any other brand or logo identified on this page.
Carly Miller is a freelance content writer specializing in all things branding related. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her traveling, playing with her dog, or reading a good book.