Monday, June 30, 2008

Wal-Mart: The Store Some People Love to Hate

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The familiar logo of the world's largest retailer is getting a makeover.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Sunday the company will begin replacing logos on the front of its U.S. stores with a new design beginning this fall. Wal-Mart spokesman Kevin Gardner said the change would reflect changes customers already have seen in some store signs and advertisements.

"This logo update is simply a reflection of the refreshed image of our stores and our renewed sense of purpose of helping people save money so they can live better," Gardner said in a written statement.

The new logo would show company's name in white letters on an orange background, followed by a small starburst.

Read more here.

Anthony Mirhaydari comments “Wal-Mart has finally decided to do something about its staid white-on-blue logo and red, blue, and grey color scheme. In a surprising move for a company that acted as though it was too big, too powerful, and too damn cheap to bother with its image problem...”

Anthony seems to think that Wal-Mart is a charitable organization rather than a for-profit business. One can almost hear the disgust as Mirhaydari attempts to put Gardner’s comment in a less philanthropic light, “That's a nice thought, but don’t let them fool you: Everything Wal-Mart does is driven by the profit motive.”

Mirhaydari has perhaps forgotten that Wal-Mart was one of the first mega-store chains to respond to the needs of Katrina victims, donating over $20 million in cash, 1,500 truckloads of free merchandise, food for 100,000 meals and the promise of a job for all of its displaced workers. Wal-Mart responded so quickly and so effectively that it could teach FEMA how to do relief work.

The fact is that Wal-Mart’s executive intelligence is such that it knows that philanthropy is good for business and the time is right for smaller stores and earth friendly retailing.

The last time Wal-Mart changed its logo was 1992. Since that time Wal-Mart has made many changes. Besides introducing a discounted prescription drug program that has become a benchmark for pharmacies, the corporation has increased the number of associates who now have health-care from 90. 4 percent in 2007 to 92. 7 percent in the first quarter of 2008. The number of uninsured Wal-Mart associates decreased also by more than 2 percent, compared to 2007.

Linda Dillman, executive vice president of benefits, reported in January of this year: "We’ve worked hard over the past couple of years to improve our health-care plans and help reach out to more associates."

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