THE ASTERISK IN WAL-MART’S NEW LOGO

I’m just atwitter over the big change at Wal-Mart!

I’m just atwitter over the big change at Wal-Mart!

The mega-retailer – long known as the Bully of Bentonville for its abusive treatment of workers, suppliers, and communities – has now announced that it is cleaning up its act. Well… sort of. Actually, there seems to be no changes in the abusive tactics, but executives at global corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, recently alerted the media that it is launching a bold initiative to help consumers. Better service? Quality merchandise? Even lower prices? No. A new logo!

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Hey, change has to start somewhere.

Wal-Mart’s PR office says the breakthrough is the result of a two-year, “customer-focused transformation” designed to “refresh” the corporate logo. Hmmm. A tall cool one on a hot day, now that’s refreshing. But a logo? Not so much.

What the two-year, pricey process produced is a logo consisting simply of the name Walmart (with no hyphen this time). They also replaced the old upper-case, blocky lettering with rounder, lower-case letters. “They seem to be going for something friendlier,” says a design consultant. Oh, they’ve also placed an artistic feature at the end of the name. Apparently it’s meant to be a star, sunburst, or flower – but it really looks like an asterisk, as though we should look at the fine print before swallowing the idea that a friendlier logo means a friendlier corporation.

Indeed, only one day after the launch of the refreshed logo, a Minnesota judge ruled that Wal-Mart has violated that state’s labor laws more than two-million times, cheating its employees out of wages and contractual rights worth millions of dollars.

Wal-Mart’s press release says that its new logo is “a reflection of the refresh taking place inside our stores.” But the logo’s asterisk tells us to check the inside reality, which is not at all refreshing.

“Walmart U.S Refreshes Stores’ Logo,” www.walmartstores.com, June 30, 2008.

“Wal-Mart Gets a Facelift,” www.businessweek.com, July 2, 2008.

“Will Wal-Mart’s New Logo Change People’s Minds About the Company?” www.walmartwatch.com, June 30, 2008

“Wal-Mart Loses a Suit Over Work Breaks,” The New York Times, July 2, 2008.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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