A Brand Misunderstanding – When Down Means Up

Alan Belniakbranding, General, guidelines, MarketingLeave a Comment

More than seven years ago, Target (the venerable US discount store retailer) rebranded its own store brand from simply Target to ‘up & up’. Along with the name change came a new graphic: the classic bulls’ eye has been replaced with an arrow, pointing up and to the right.


I like the unadorned, clean look. The font is minimal. It’s lower-case. The imagery is two-dimensional. The image itself is an arrow and not even a photograph. Take a look for yourself if you are not familiar:

Target's 'up & up' brand, on www.SubjectivelySpeaking.net


The interesting thing about this, though, is that it’s easy to turn around. This is from a box of tissues. It’d be easy to get this flipped around inside your house after someone grabs a few from the box. If that’s the case, you’d end up with this:

Target's 'up & up' logo, flipped 180 degrees

Target’s ‘up & up’ logo, flipped 180 degrees

Same image, rotated 180 degrees. But now the ‘up and up’ looks … different. It looks a lot like ‘down and down’ (or ‘dn & dn’). And I’ve got to think that wasn’t intentional, or even fully thought through.


Brand Attributes Associated With Up and Down

From a branding perspective, and more specifically, a brand attribute perspective, words I associate with ‘up & up’ include status, quality, movement, and trend. As in, I feel as if I’m on the up and up (or upward path) by using these branded items.


Thus, my concern with what this could convey when it appears as ‘dn & dn.’


You’d like to think that the Target team thought this through. Either they didn’t, or they did, and opted to not care. I don’t think it’s a major brand damager, but it certainly isn’t a positive thing.


What about you, readers? Have you seen this before? Do you know other examples of where a slight misinterpretation of an image or icon could have potentially negative side effects?