How do you pivot the world’s largest retailer to speak to a newly expanded customer base, a new shopping experience, a new merchandise mix and a new level of confidence from its 1.5 million employees? It requires a solid belief system that an internal culture will passionately rally behind, and it extends to a vibrant makeover that inspires everyone who walks through its doors.
For Walmart, this was a monumental initiative with high expectations, especially from its investor community. Not only were they trying to reach a brand new customer segment, but they were also looking to enhance their credibility in new categories like grocery and home. In Lippincott, they chose a partner well versed in transformations.
A transformation strategy
The Walmart transformation began with a strategic exploration around its near-term ambitions: to position itself for growth into new markets and customer segments while staying true to their commitment to always carry the lowest prices. We maintained this emphasis on savings, but expanded the brand essence to resonate on a deeper, more emotional level. We looked to the most important outcomes of saving money: feeling smart for making the right choice, spending more time with family, and, to simply live better. We worked with Walmart to deliver this emotionally driven brand promise to their core customer base as well as a new broader audience. Today, this promise shines through in the way employees approach their role in their customers’ lives and Walmart’s contemporized look and feel.
A revamped experience, inside and out
The Lippincott team systematically worked its way through every piece of the brand, beginning with the organization’s behind-the-scenes culture. To achieve internal buy-in, we redesigned the company’s headquarters and led employee engagement programs. By transforming Walmart employment into Walmart brand ambassadorship, we encouraged employees to believe in — and deliver on — their roles in helping customers live better lives.
We also translated Walmart’s brand into all aspects of the in-store experience. With a positioning grounded in feeling smart and happy about everyday choices, we emphasized an easy-to-navigate store layout and an intuitive shopping experience. These experiential designs included floor plans based on the optimal number of products per square footage, new interiors and new signage and merchandising displays that passed rigorous testing across the country. They also included a deep trove of uplifting lifestyle imagery — featured prominently in stores, on the company’s vast fleet of trucks and in redesigned newsletters. Overall, these extensive visual and experiential changes led to a warmer, more modern, brighter and friendlier store and shopping experience.
The Spark that sang: Save money. Live Better.
Walmart’s refreshed brand focuses on the emotional payoffs of saving money. At a higher level, two complimentary assets reflect that promise. The new logo features a brilliantly simple Spark. Evocative of the light bulb that goes off in your head when you feel smart about something, or the burst of energy you feel when you enjoy a better life, the Spark speaks to the emotional foundation of the brand. The Spark is complemented by its kindred new tagline, “Save money. Live better,” which resonates with legacy Walmart shoppers but also with new customer segments that see value as an enabler to a better, less compromised life. Together, logo and tagline complete the simple but powerful value calculus of the newly enlivened brand.
Almost every aspect of the brand, along with detailed guidelines, came together in the Brand Book. An online brand center helped supplement internal training to align people around how to live and understand the brand changes. The results are evident in Walmart’s refreshed image and improved connection with customers. Walmart’s performance on key brand attributes continues to improve. Between 2008 and 2010, ratings for how “fast,” “friendly” and “clean” Walmart was increased significantly. Additionally, the company maintained traffic from core customers while growing traffic by approximately 7 percent from customers with incomes above $75,000 — an underrepresented customer segment for Walmart prior to the brand revitalization.