Giant Puts on a Fresh Face For Its Supermarket Upgrades

The grocer said the new, colorful logo reflects the chain's improvements.
The grocer said the new, colorful logo reflects the chain's improvements.
By Ylan Q. Mui
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 22, 2008

It's a bird! It's a fruit bowl! It's . . . Giant Food's new logo.

Gone is the familiar big blue G with the red Giant in block letters. In the new look, the name is the shade of eggplant and topped with a colorful array of abstract half-moons that bring to mind a tropical bird, or perhaps a fruit salad, depending on how you squint.

The logo has begun popping up this week in advertising circulars. The official unveiling is scheduled for today at the Georgetown Square store in Bethesda. Employees will also be donning new "logo wear" uniforms -- purple and gold polos, aprons and hats -- to replace the old, drab green.

"The equity is the Giant name," said Jim Dwyer, executive vice president for strategy and business development at Giant and its sister chain, Stop & Shop. "We are giving it a new, refreshed face to get consumers to notice that things inside the store have changed."

Along with the new logo, Giant is planning to expand its selection of prepared foods and private-label offerings. It also is instituting a family checkout lane that bans tabloids and candy in favor of yogurt, animal crackers and bottled water. Hand-held scanners soon will be available for shoppers to ring up groceries while they browse the store.

The company is also making structural changes. About 100 stores will be remodeled over the next two and a half years, the largest investment in the chain since it was acquired by Royal Ahold of the Netherlands. The effort has been dubbed Project Refresh and will focus on upgrading the perishable-food departments, such as produce, and improving the look of stores with touches such as new floors and lighting.

Giant also has lowered prices for 85 percent of its products over the past two years in categories such as paper products and health and beauty items under its "value improvement program." However, sales at Giant stores in the Washington region have continued to dip. During the second quarter, sales at stores open at least a year dropped 1.4 percent.

Giant has faced increasing competition from high-end grocers such as Whole Foods as well as discounters such as Wal-Mart, both of which have strong brand identities. In the past, it was enough that Giant's logo simply conveyed its name, said Caley Cantrell, a communications strategy professor at Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter. But now, many consumers are looking for more from their grocery store.

"A logo is a design embodiment of a company's point of a view, what a company's belief system is and its place in the market," Cantrell said. "As the market evolves, a company has to determine, 'Do our outward symbols . . . have to evolve as well?' "

Hanging new signs on all of Giant's stores will likely take two to three years, though shoppers will begin to see the new logo more frequently over the next few weeks. The old logo has been around since 1963, Dwyer said.

The company has spent the past two years researching consumer shopping habits and last summer hired the global marketing firm Interbrand -- which helped pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly create the name Prozac for its popular antidepressant -- to help it develop the logo.

Stephen Vowles, senior vice president for marketing and corporate brands at Stop & Shop and Giant, said the design is intentionally vague but that consumers generally associate the look with "positive" and "fresh." The company pulled the purple and gold from the logo and onto employees' uniforms to help them stand out from other retailers' colors, typically reds, blues and greens.

Stop & Shop, based in Quincy, Mass., will also use the new logo and uniforms. Company executives said the two chains will maintain their names and identities, however.

Greg Johnston, executive creative director for public relations firm Ogilvy and a Giant shopper, said the grocer's old logo seemed dated, "cold and impersonal." He interpreted the abstract design in the new version as a sun with rays of fruit. He called the look "refreshing" and "friendlier" but cautioned that a logo alone cannot change consumers' perceptions.

"A logo doesn't just appear by itself. There's always something that's surrounded by it," he said. "You have to have more than a logo for consumers to react positively or negatively to your brand."

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