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Target Logo Design, History And Evolution

man wearing target logo design

The evolution of corporate logos is one of the most fascinating topics in modern culture. Some logos remain relatively unchanged for decades while other logos get regular updates. In this article, we’ll examine the Target logo.

Consciously or not, our interaction with corporate logos makes up the background tapestry of our whole lives. Almost invariably, significant life experiences happen in the presence of some corporate logo, and seeing that logo years later can bring back memories that may have been dormant for many years. 

About Target

Everyone is familiar with the iconic red and white Target logo of the popular discount store. Most large and medium-sized cities have a Target either on the outskirts of town or nestled in a corner of a busy city center.

People even define themselves as “Target shoppers” and proudly carry their Target logo-emblazoned bags home after successful shopping trips. But as familiar as you are with the brand, how much do you really know about the history of this discount shopping icon?

History

Founded in Roseville, Minnesota on May 1st, 1962, Target has grown to become the 8th-largest department store retailer in the United States. Modern stores are roughly 135,000 square feet and offer everything from clothing to electronics.

The first Super Target opened in 1995 in Omaha, Nebraska. A Super Target is roughly 50% larger than standard Targets and features a full grocery store.

Target Brands

There are many brands promoted under the Target logo and are featured at the retail locations. These brands include the following:

Company Outlook

CC 3.0 by Ser Amantio di Nicolao via Wikimedia Commons

Over the years, the Target logo has become one of the retail cornerstones of the US retail economy. Target has evolved as American society has changed, and the company ranks on the Fortune magazine list of the “World’s Most Admired Companies”.

The business community respects Target for its sound business principals, fair treatment of workers, and philanthropic efforts.

Target Logo Design

The Target logo is a red and white bulls-eye recognized by 96% of American consumers. The Target logo features a red dot at the center surrounded by a concentric white ring, with a second concentric red ring, followed by another concentric red ring.

The logo is symmetrical and pleasing to the eye. Variations include adding the Target name in black or red in Helvetica Neue Bold font. The Target name may appear to the right or below the bulls-eye logo.

What Makes the Target Logo So Perfect?

Iconic examples of graphic design are always simple, convey a thought, and are memorable. For example, the “I love New York” T-shirt with its black letters on a white background and a red heart has become almost a required purchase for all visitors to the Big Apple. The Target logo features design elements featured in many iconic logos.

Iconic Design Elements

How Do These Elements Work Together?

A simple design is easy to recognize even at a great distance or when viewed only for an instant. Logos must alert drivers traveling at highway speeds they are nearing a store location.

The Target logo, the bulls-eye, represents both a destination and a positive achievement. The symmetry of the logo pleases the eye and is easy to remember. The Target logo is an extra large bulls-eye, which creates the sub-conscious expectation that success will be easier.

The red and white color scheme stands out against a blue sky background.The Target logo had a large advantage over other logos because of the historical significance of the target symbol.

However, the Target logo is a union of a historical symbol with modern corporate marketing. The Target logo is different enough from marksman targets that the corporate logo will never be mistaken for anything other than the brand identity. 

Target did an excellent job of crafting their version of a corporate symbol. Like many corporate logos, the Target logo evolved throughout the years.

Target Logo History & Evolution

With a relatively simple design, the Target logo has only undergone subtle changes throughout the years. However, subtle changes can be the difference between an effective logo and a failure.

Few companies have a name that so readily lends itself to symbolic representation as Target. But even with that advantage, it took Target several tries before they arrived at the iconic logo they have today.

The 1962 Logo

Video screenshot from Kaison Smith via YouTube

The original logo released in 1962 was a red and white bulls-eye logo with the “Target” name written in black scripted lettering across the front. The main difference of the original logo was that the central dot was white instead of red and there were three concentric red circles.

Although this logo is very similar to today’s logo, there are many design pros and cons:

PROS  

CONS

The Overall Effect

The 1962 logo is much less effective than today’s logo. The overlapping design elements and the multiple concentric circles make the logo too busy. The result is that the eye has too much to take in and interpret and as a result, the brain is not likely to associate this logo with the retail store.

Also, the target element is too similar to a marksman target which dilutes the capacity for this logo to achieve brand recognition.

The 1969 Logo

Beginning in 1969, Target experimented with incorporating their logo in advertising in unexpected ways. By then, they had reduced their logo to a central dot with two concentric circles to simplify it.

However, in 1969 they used a black and white color scheme which does not catch the eye like the final red and white design.

PROS  

CONS

The 1975 Logo

Video screenshot from Kaison Smith via YouTube

The 1975 logo is the first iteration of the iconic Target logo we know today. However, in 1975, the bulls-eye was just a small feature of the logo. The logo featured the bulls-eye followed by “Target” written in large, black, block letters.

The 1975 bulls-eye was the modern version with the red center and the single red concentric circle. Unfortunately, the text lettering overshadowed the iconic bulls-eye in this logo.

PROS  

CONS

The 1989 Logo

Video screenshot from Kaison Smith via YouTube

In 1975, Target had come close to a perfect logo. However, before adopting the modern logo the company first had to create a marketing disaster. The 1989 logo abandoned the target symbol entirely.

Instead, they used a script version of the word “Target” written in red with a white shadow. This logo version featured none of the graphic design advantages of previous logos. Target retired the script logo after only 12 months.

PROS  

CONS

The 2006 Logo

Video screenshot from Kaison Smith via YouTube

Video screenshot from Kaison Smith via YouTube

It wasn’t until 2006 that Target uncoupled the target symbol from the text lettering of the store name. The result was a simple symbol and easy to recognize at a distance with a vibrant color scheme.

The 2006 logo is instantly recognizable as the symbol of the Target retail store and is versatile enough to place on an advertisement with no textual reference to the retail store and still evokes customer recognition.

The 2006 iteration of the Target logo is a textbook logo representing a high-water mark all corporate advertising departments should strive for.

Conclusion

Corporate logos have long served as a backdrop to American life. As individuals travel through cities or airports, they do so in front of a tapestry of color made up of corporate logos.

Although we are not always consciously aware of corporate logos, they constantly flash into our field of vision and our minds subconsciously note the shapes, colors, and symbols.

These symbols surround us daily, and they become intertwined with the memories of all our life experience.The modern Target logo is one of the most recognizable corporate symbols at work in US retail today. As simple as the logo is, the modern version did not come into existence until 44 years after the first Target logo.

Earlier designs contained elements of the final version. However, the earlier designs featured components that obscured the best features of the final product. Only by whittling down the original logo was Target able to reveal the iconic one they have today.

The bulls-eye has always been a symbol of a victory or a destination, and Target was smart to incorporate this symbol into their identity.

However, the early Target logos overly resembled marksman bulls-eyes, so over time, Target learned how to differentiate their logo from a sportsman symbol to a symbol of corporate identity.

The color scheme, symmetry, and simplicity of the Target logo make it an iconic design and one of the most effective corporate logos at work in the landscape of American retail stores.

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