When it comes to the American retail space, few names are as important as Target. The big box store that has managed to keep a relatively positive reputation over the years, Target is as well-known for its branding as it is for its products. The company’s logo is iconic, but it’s actually changed a bit over the years. By taking a look at the elements of the design and the evolution of the Target logo, you can see a shift in the way that retail stores have crafted their images over the course of the last few decades.
Target Logo Design Elements
The Target logo is clever because the shape is just that – a target. The clever bullseye logo stands alone in the crowd, existing without any kind of backup in the advertising space. It’s an incredibly simple shape, one that almost any customer can pick out in the crowd. It is, in fact, such a simple shape that a consumer can probably guess the name of the store even if they’ve never seen it before. As a symbol, it’s pretty much perfect.
Red and white are the colors of the store, and they work to provide both strong contrast and a good use of negative space in the design. There’s absolutely no text usage at all in the design, which is a brave choice – it assumes that the brand is so easily identifiable that customers need no extra information to make an informed choice. The risk has, for the most part, paid off for the company.
Changes and Evolution
First revealed in 1962, Target’s bullseye logo has been in use for over fifty years. The actual shape of the logo hasn’t changed at all in the intervening years, staying with the same bullseye from day one. Apparently, Target found something that worked on the first try and hasn’t had any reason to change what’s worked so well – with one exception. For a brief, twelve-month period Target used a text version of the logo that quickly fizzled out and faded away.
Red has always been Target’s color. The only thing that’s changed is the color, and that may be more of a change in printing technology than in corporate intent. The company’s original shape was a more of an orange-red, though that would fade away by the time the sixties were over. The current shade is more in line with modern advertising colors, while the original felt more at home in the 1960s. It’s a good example of how a company can modernize its logo without actually having to make major updates.
While the modern Target logo doesn’t include a font, the original logo had the word ‘TARGET’ written across the bulls-eye in what can only be described as a very mod font. By 1975, though, that script would move to the side of the bullseye and change over to a more modern, all-caps font. After a brief, disastrous (and very 80s) font switch in 1989, Target would completely remove the font from the logo in order to let the image stand on its own.
Target’s design influence definitely comes from the world of the 1960s department store. It uses a font very similar to what you’d see in JC Penny’s or Sears during that time period, combined with a visual image that seems more at home in local chain grocery stores. Once the font was decoupled from the logo, it became even more clearly associated with other big-box retailers like K-Mart and Wal-Mart.
Target’s success with its logo definitely inspired a logo switch in its main rival, Wal-Mart. The reliance on the simple image rather than the store name has been aped by a number of other companies, though most haven’t gone as far as to completely eliminate the wordmark from advertising. In this, Target seems to very much stand alone.
- Target was founded by Georg Draper Dayton in 1895
- Target was originally known as The Dayton Company.
- The big red balls outside Target stores are actually there to prevent cars from crashing into the store.
- Target paid $1 million dollars in 1997 to help restore the Washington Monument.
- Target’s plastic shopping cart is about fifteen pounds lighter than the conventional shopping cart.
Target’s decision to push all their branding around an image rather than a word is unusual, but it works. They’ve made such a strong connection between a logo and a brand that consumers don’t even need to read to know that they’re looking at something from Target. The company has managed to find the image that is worth a thousand words – perhaps one of the best realized goals in all of logo design.