The Meaning And Evolution Of The Target Logo

September 14, 2022
Authored by:
Ryan Lau

As one of the largest retailers in the United States, Target prides itself on always providing more than you expect to pay. Constantly innovating and providing budget-friendly options, Target has become a favorite among millions of communities.

There's a fascinating backstory to the company and its iconic bullseye emblem. Keep reading and be a part of this journey.

Key takeaways:

  • The Target logo has undergone five redesigns since the brand’s official inception in 1962.
  • Target was initially the budget-friendly option in comparison to parent brand Dayton’s, which offered more refined products.
  • The Target logo features a bullseye icon as the perfect complement to its brand name.
  • Target surpassed every expectation and grew to become the main enterprise of the founders.
  • Target reached a revenue of over $100 billion in 2022, proving that its quality and accessibility remain impactful to this day.
  • Though the Target logo has changed over time, the design has always had its iconic bullseye and red color.

The evolution of the Target logo through the years

The Target logo has had a few updates over the years, but it always kept the traditional bullseye icon and red brand color.

When the company was founded, it chose the name from over 200 different options. The name “Target” symbolized the store’s purpose to guess precisely what society needs and wants. The name provided the inspiration for the bullseye logo as well.

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1962 to 1968: A genius start


As you can see, originally, the Target logo had three concentric rings rather than the famous circle and dot that we know today. This mirrored the actual target that marksmen often used.

The logo design featured the name written in italics and black on top of the emblem. While this image is quite memorable, the clarity and legibility of the logo suffered. This Target black and white logo was especially noticeable if the design was monochrome, with all of the overlapping elements, making it difficult to read.

1968 to 1974: The famous bullseye


It was much easier to read the logo and name in this new version of the Target logo. The name and design were separated, and the bullseye emblem underwent a logo redesign close to the famous version that we know today.

Often, this logo is used without the name, just the bullseye. Another significant change was the typeface; moving from an italic typeface to the sans-serif and all-capital typeface gave a more concise and clean look.

Often, during these years, the wordmark would not be found next to the Target logo, with the brand simply using the circle and dot emblem on products.

1974 to 2004: A change in font


With two updates to the logo, each six years apart, a pattern was starting to emerge. That was broken with this logo, which would remain as the Target black and white logo for 30 years. This update was yet another typeface change. This time the letters became bolder, straighter, and filled in. This larger lettering made the brand name stand out and made it even easier to read.

2004 to 2018: A complete redesign


This update kept the font the same, changing the color from black to red and moving the entire logo to be a singular color. Also, the name was moved from being to the right of the emblem to being smaller and below it. This Target logo would remain almost exactly the same all the way to the present.

2018 to present: Minimalism at its finest


This is the current rendition of the logo. The most noticeable change in the Target logo was the movement from all uppercase letters in the logo to all lowercase letters. This font change followed other major brands such as Facebook and Amazon.

It provided a friendlier and more casual vibe. At the same time, many digital versions of the logo dropped the name entirely.

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What are the logo design elements of Target?

The Target logo—we all know it and love it. The clean, symmetrical, and minimalistic design sticks in our minds and evokes positive emotions.

The red color symbolizes energy, desire, and power while also contrasting nicely against anything it is placed against. The monochromatic color scheme also means it is easy to read and eye-catching.

The Target logo conveys its goals clearly, with the brand aiming to provide precisely what the customer wants and needs. While there are theories that the three rings (two red, one white) represent the unity between the company and its stakeholders, that might be a bit of a stretch.

What is for sure is that the circular logo reminds viewers of completeness and timelessness, both important qualities for the Target brand identity.

A brief history on Target and its rise to fame

George Dayton initially founded Target in 1902 in Minneapolis. He bought a plot of land, constructed a six-story building on it, and then convinced the local department store, Good Fellow Dry Goods, to move their operations into his building.

In the same year, Dayton took over the store and renamed it “Dayton’s.” Dayton’s quickly grew into a major retailer. In 1929, they purchased their first jewelry store and eventually opened Dayton’s Jewellers. In 1948, Dayton’s was the first department store to implement barcode scanning for their products.

Dayton's department store | Source: Target

In 1960, John Geisse, one of the vice presidents of Dayton’s, saw a gap in the retail store market. There were discount stores and top-end stores, but there was no middle ground, no upscale discount.

News of the transition | Source: Target

Geisse realized that this would be the perfect area for him to open a store. He began planning to leave the Dayton company and open his own store, but he needed capital.

Geisse pitched the idea to Dayton, who loved it. Geisse opened up the first Target store in 1962. It was branded as Dayton’s discount line and became hugely popular.

The first Target store | Source: SMH

Geisse designed the ambiance and merchandising format, selling higher-end goods from Dayton’s but at low-profit margins, cutting select services to keep costs low for customers.

Being a subsidiary of Dayton’s, they were able to get funding and investment from the parent company and always use their judgment rather than have to appease investors.

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Soon, the Target chain was producing more revenue than any of their other brands (by this point, Dayton’s not only had their jewelry store division and department store line, but also a line of book stores).

Dayton’s decided to pivot and focus entirely on Target and the department store market, opening additional stores and purchasing other department store chains. They purchased Mervyn’s, J.L. Hudson, and Marshall Field’s.

Target makes waves as a versatile and budget-friendly shopping ground | Source: Target

Despite this, the Target line was still performing better than anything else. By the year 2000, Dayton’s changed their name to Target Corporation and began to sell or shut down anything that wasn’t a Target store.

Between 2000 and 2005, the newly named Target corporation converted all Dayton’s and Hudson’s stores into Marshal Field's stores. It then sold the entire company as well as Mervyn’s line for just under five billion dollars. They then used this capital to continue to grow the Target store line.

Target now has over 1938 locations, with one in every state in the United States, and is the United States’ second largest retail store chain. With their combined revenue approaching the 100 billion dollar mark, they are consistently found within the top 40 largest companies in the United States.

Frequently asked questions: 3 popular FAQs about the Target logo

What are some commonly asked questions about the Target logo design? Get your questions answered with these three FAQs.

1. Why did Target change its logo?

The Target Corporation updated its last logo when the world went digital and logos became more minimalist. In 2014, Target's wordmark was moved down below the bullseye symbol and shrunk significantly. For uniformity, the black typeface was replaced by red.

2. What is the meaning behind the Target logo?

The symbolism of the Target logo is based on the ideas of continuity and forward motion. The name of the company and the bullseye are perfectly complementary to the Target logo. In essence, the logo represents the business name. It hits the target dead on. But it also communicates the company's values and what it can provide to customers.

3. Who made the logo of Target?

Stewart K. Widdess, the director at the time, and his team came up with the name in a matter of weeks, just a few months before the store opened, and the bullseye logo was planned out from the get-go. The Target brand guidelines dive deeper into the creator and principles of the logo, taking pride in this world-famous design.

Final thoughts

Target was started as the discount version of a much larger brand. Since then, it has grown to be the only remaining remnant of the retail giant. Target consistently moves with the times, stays relevant, and appeals to its customers.

With many slight updates to its logo, making it more appealing, memorable, and shareable, the Target logo remains one of the most recognized in the United States. The story teaches us that keeping true to your past while innovating and improving is key to a strong brand.

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