"Attention, K mart shoppers" -- the much-satirized mating call of bargain-hunters everywhere -- may be the last vestige of the national discount retailer's old image, as the company yesterday jettisoned its 28-year-old red-and-turquoise logo.
Part of a larger marketing campaign to modernize its image, the Michigan-based K mart Corp. unveiled the new red-and-white trademark -- a big "K" inscribed with the word "mart" in diagonal script lettering. The new logo is the most visible element of the $2.3 billion attempt by the company, one of the largest retailers in the United States with 2,331 stores, to signal its "K Mart Renewal" strategy.
"We want our retail identity to represent what K mart's about today," said K mart Chairman Joseph Antonini. "This new symbol keeps K mart in step with the times and reflects the dynamism and excitement of the company's commitment to renewal."
Renewal might be a gentle word for what K mart is aiming for. The object of jokes by comics and saddled with a polyester reputation, the store has an image in retail akin to that of fast-food joints in the world of good eating.
K mart officials wanted to introduce the change at a news conference yesterday, but details of the secret change leaked out Tuesday to local Michigan newspapers that received press materials a day early and also spotted some refurbished shopping carts at a new store.
The switch is no small undertaking and is expected to last five years and cost $250 million, since everything from signs to price tags needs an overhaul. Anspach, Grossman, Portugal Inc. of New York designed the new trademark.
Along with the logo change, the company is building 250 new stores, enlarging 620 existing ones, relocating 280 and renovating the rest to new specifications. The logo will be slapped on only when stores are up to the new K mart muster.
"K mart has an image of being cheap," said Peter Hirsch, creative director of the New York-based advertising agency Calet, Hirsch & Spector, which is handling an ad campaign that starts today. "Since imagery has a lot to do with sales, a new sign, a new ad strategy and new, better stores will give customers a fresher look at a K mart."