Big Win or Big Whoop?

New logo for BIG W

Big W logo before and after
BIG W logo before and after

BIG W is an Australian chain of discount department stores, which was founded on the outskirts of Newcastle, New South Wales in 1964. The company is a division of Woolworths Limited and currently operates 186 stores, with about 22,000 employees across Australia and Asia. From women’s, men’s and children’s clothing and shoes to homewares, electronics, pet food, cleaning items, party goods, toys and books, BIG W is a one-stop-shop for customers seeking great design, brands and value across the country. (Woolworths Group)

“While we are not rebranding BIG W, we are refreshing our existing brand, including the BIG W logo. This work is a process that will continue to evolve in line with BIG W’s transformation and will be reflected in how we communicate our offer to customers.”

Statement to

Old Big W logos
Old BIG W logos

I’m only old enough to remember the logo of the 90s, which, looking back, looks rather menacing, especially given the name. 2008 saw the biggest change in terms of the feel; the previously heavy all-caps were replaced by a lighter, brighter wordmark based on VAG Rounded. It was fresh and friendly and just what was needed as part of the brand’s revitalisation.

Since then, there have been a couple of minor updates, with the addition of a circular holding device in 2012, and, only last year, the circle was re-darkened and the type was modified in favour of flat terminals. Why? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ It’s as if the logo was slowly morphing back to the 90s version…

New Big W logo detail
New BIG W logo detail

Lo and behold, the new logo beefs up the weight of the letters, albeit in a new sans-serif typeface with wider proportions. There is no more weight contrast between the BIG and the W (which now rests firmly on the baseline), and the kerning between the two makes them seem a little too close for comfort. The aperture of the G is also quite small in this weight, so the name verges on looking like BIO W.

The circle has changed colour again, at least on screen, to a slightly more indigo-y blue. And, well, I can neither justify nor condemn that. (I suspect it won’t be as print-friendly, at least.)

Old Big W catalogue sample pages
Old BIG W catalogue sample pages
New Big W catalogue sample pages
New BIG W catalogue sample pages

The catalogues have also been redesigned in line with the new typography. Notably, the logo covers the full width of the front cover (and works better without the circle, in my opinion). The cover also now spotlights a single product and there are more IKEA-esque lifestyle shots featuring products in-situ (like on the middle page) – it’s all rather nice.

With major competition from a resurgent Kmart and a failure to maintain its relevance in the rapidly changing department store landscape, BIG W has been experiencing significant decline in the last few years. One would hope that a new logo is only a small part of a broader plan to reinvent the brand and secure the future of its stores. For now, there’s nothing to see here, people, move along.

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