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LogoLounge 2 by Catharine Fishel, Bill Gardener

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Creating identities for the retail market can be a bit like trying to stake a
claim in quicksand: as soon as you get the flag posted, the ground starts
to shift beneath your feet.
Such was definitely the case for Design Guys when the Minneapolis-based
design firm created a new identity for the Todd Oldham line of goods that
would be marketed through Target stores in the fall of 2003. The Oldham
brand had already been in the stores the previous year when Target buy-
ers and marketers decided that its original look was a bit too strong: They
asked Design Guys to create a look that would be commensurate in visual
strength with their revised numbers—the Oldham line would be only 30
percent of the back-to-school and dorm room goods on the shelves, as
opposed to the 70 percent it held the first year.
The back-to-school market has emerged as a burgeoning category for Tar-
get, says Design Guys principal Steve Sikora. “Traditionally, it has been
associated with grade- and high-school kids, but with products like those
in the Todd Oldham line, it also relates to college kids and even people out-
fitting their first apartments,” he says.
Because it is now such a meaningful category for the company, Target pays
close attention to trends—which are subject to change at a moment’s
notice. When Design Guys started the identity design for the second year’s
design, it was still operating (at Target’s direction) on the previous year’s
indicators.
“Originally, we were creating a retro, funky, ’50s roadside motel look,”
Sikora recalls. The designers studied books on Las Vegas signage and
motel marquees and tried to incorporate eclectic elements such as wood
grain and neon.
“We kept working until we had something that was equal parts motel sign
and logo. The creative director and upper management at Target were
happy, but then the merchants changed their thinking. They felt it was
much too strong and needed to be moderated,” he says. “You have to get
used to tectonic shifts like these in large organizations.”
Design Firm
Client
Project
Design Guys
Target—Todd Oldham Product Line
Product Identity Redesign
Although the Todd Oldham
in-store identity for Target
started its life with a retro
flavor, it was toned back sig-
nificantly by the designers at
Design Guys (Minneapolis).
The new identity shown here
still has a flavor of the ’50s,
yet it is recessive enough to
let the style of the decorating
products show through.
“A designer is less likely to treat the work as
precious if it’s part of a larger process.”
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Design Guys designers Kelly Munson and Anne Peterson devel-
oped a wide array of logo explorations for the Todd Oldham line.
Influences included motel marquees and Las Vegas signage.
These directions were well received by Target’s creative director
and upper management, but in-house merchants felt the
designs were too strong. The design team had to return to
square one.
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The final iteration diminished the personality of the identity, thereby allowing the product to
speak for itself and open the door to a slightly broader audience.
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