A Brand Misunderstanding – When Down Means Up

Alan Belniakbranding, General, guidelines, Marketing0 Comments

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?