The History and Story Behind The Target Logo


Most people in the United States should be familiar with Target to some extent. This is because it is one of the biggest retail corporations that can be found in the country, as shown by the fact that it has more than 1,800 stores in 50 states. On top of that, Target is one of the corporations included in the S&P 500, which is considered to be one of the best representations of the U.S. stock market as well.

Of course, this kind of prominence didn’t come about in a single day. Those who are curious should know that the roots of the Target Corporation can be traced to the Panic of 1893, which was an economic depression in the United States caused by a crash in commodity prices as well as a run on gold in the U.S. Treasury motivated by a crash in confidence in international investments. When the Westminister Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis burned down, its insurance couldn’t cover the cost of a replacement, which is why it asked one of its congregants named George Dayton to buy the empty corner lot besides the burnt-down building. In time, Dayton built a six-story building on the site, convinced the Reuben Simon Goodfellow Company to move its store into the building, and then bought the owner’s interest when he retired. As such, the company was renamed the Dayton Dry Goods Company and then the Dayton Company, which performed so well that it was a multimillion-dollar business that could fill the entirety of the six-story building by the 1920s.

That was the same time when the Dayton Company started expanding to encompass other stores as well. Its first purchase was a local jeweler just before the U.S. stock market crashed in the fall of 1929. Perhaps unsurprisingly, said store didn’t do too well throughout the Great Depression of the 1930s. However, the Dayton Company’s core business performed much better, thus enabling it to come out of the period on firm footing.

In the 1960s, it founded the first Target, which was based on the concept of upscale discount retailing developed by its employee John F. Geisse. In that earliest time, the business unit operated at a loss. However, it had become profitable by 1965, thus enabling it to further expand into local markets, regional markets, and then national markets in the subsequent decades. By 2000, what was then called the Dayson-Hudson Corporation changed its name to the Target Corporation, which reflected the fact that Target stores made up between 75 percent and 80 percent of its total sales by that point in time. Since then, it has run into some serious issues such as the failed Canadian expansion. However, Target Corporation has remained strong, not least because its particular focuses have enabled it to ride out a lot of the challenges confronting a lot of other U.S. retailers.

How Did Target Choose Its Logo?

The Target logo is a product of the Target name. Some people might wonder why the Dayton Company needed a new name for its business unit when it was already a well-established name in the retail sector by that point in time. However, it is important to note that it was running department stores whereas the new business unit was centered on the concept of upscale discount retailing. As such, if the two used the same brand, there was a very real chance that good marketing for one would’ve been bad for the other because they were aimed at very different segments of consumers. Due to that, the Dayton Company’s PR team came up with a very wide range of potential names before settling upon Target in the end.

Having said that, while the Target logo is a product of the Target name, it has undergone a fair amount of change over time. For starters, the initial version was the bullseye. However, it was a more complex-looking bullseye with not two but three red rings. Still, it wasn’t too long before the two-ring bullseye came along, seeing as how it showed up as the design for a stylized earring shown on an advertisement for the grand opening campaign in 1969. By 1975, Target had switched over to a two-ringed bullseye placed to the left of “Target” in big, bold letters, which stood out very well when paired with the red and white of the bullseye. Later, this was replaced by a much quirkier version of “Target” in red and white in 1989. This version proved to be a total failure, as shown by how it was retired from use after a short period of just 12 months. By 2006, Target was able to ditch the “Target” in its logo altogether, thus letting the two-ringed bullseye stand on its own. Something that was possible because it had managed to achieve more than 96 percent recognition among American shoppers by the early 2000s.

As for the use of the bullseye, that is a product of longstanding custom. In short, shooting things is a very old practice for humans, as shown by how we have the remains of bone and stone arrowheads from about 60,000 to 70,000 years ago. However, interested individuals shouldn’t assume that this meant that shooting things was an easy skill to pick up. Instead, it took a lot of time and effort for people to be able to make accurate shots on a consistent basis, which we know because ancient cultures had to recruit archers for military purposes from people whose livelihoods were reliant on that skill rather than train them from the ground up. Naturally, this meant that people spent a lot of time shooting at targets, which became more and more abstract over time. Bullseye is a term that refers to the very center of the target as well as shots that manage to hit the very center of the target, which has been in use since 1833. As for why it started seeing use this way, it was a reference to both the size and the color of the center by the people of those times, who tended to be much more familiar with the look of a bull’s eye than most of us living in the very urbanized present.

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