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The Complete History Of The Home Depot Logo

When you think of a big orange box, what do you think of? And when you think of home improvement, what do you think of? Chances are both led you to Home Depot. 

The reason Home Depot is the first thing that comes to mind is because of its longstanding logo and reputation. Four decades since the company was founded, the Home Depot is synchronous with home improvement. The association between the two things is exactly what Home Depot has always wanted and has helped drive its success. 

Just like with any business, creating a logo is an intentional choice and the intentional choice that Home Depot made back in 1978 hasn’t wavered since. With the logo being the staple of the brand for the past 40+ years, there are many lessons we can learn from this company. 

Read on below to learn more about this iconic brand and how it transformed a simple orange box into one of the most recognizable logos in the world. 

Meet The Home Depot

While you may know Home Depot as your local home improvement store, you likely don’t know that the idea of Home Depot was formulated in a coffee shop in 1978. It was in that Los Angeles coffee shop that Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank came together with a new store concept. The two were former high-profiled executives who took their experience being fired from the Handy Dan Home Improvement Center and used this as inspiration for their new concept, Home Depot. 

What the duo came up with was a one-stop megastore that provided all the products someone would need for a home project. They wanted the store to offer a wide array of products all at an affordable price point, and they wanted every store to be filled with employees that were knowledgeable about the home improvement space. To take Home Depot from an idea to a physical retail space, Bernie and Arthur brought in Ron Brill, a retail executive, Pat Farrah, a merchandise expert, and Ken Langone, an investment banker.

Before Home Depot became “Home Depot,” the team threw around several other names to call their business. After settling on “Bad Bernie’s,” an early investor, Marjorie Buckley, got them to change the name after she disliked it strongly. She suggested the name “The Home Depot” instead and that name has stuck to this day. 

Today, Home Depot has grown to include 70 distribution centers across the United States, and beyond having stores solely in the United States, you can also find Home Depot in other countries like Canada and Mexico. When you walk into a Home Depot, you are walking into America’s largest home improvement retail store where you can purchase tools, construction items, lumber, services, and more. 

The Home Depot’s Evolution

1978: The Home Depot idea is formulated

Sitting in a Los Angeles coffee shop, Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank came up with what we know today as Home Depot. After being laid off from Handy Dan Improvement Centers, the two created this Home Depot, Inc. concept. Their goal with Home Depot was to be a one-stop-shop that offered a huge variety of products at competitive, affordable prices. They founded the company on their core values of respect, excellent customer service, and community service. These three pillars have stayed with the company throughout its growth.

1979-1980: The first Home Depot store(s) are opened

The first two Home Depot stores opened in Atlanta, Georgia on June 22, 1979. After receiving help from three interested parties (Ron Brill, a retail executive, Pat Farrah, a merchandise expert, and Ken Langone, an investment banker), these three individuals went on to become Bernie and Arthur’s co-founders. In 1980, four more Home Depot stores opened in the Atlanta area after the first two stores exceeded everyone’s expectations around performance.

1981-1984: Home Depot, Inc. goes public

After opening its initial stores, Home Depot wanted to attract additional funds to support expansion. To do this, Home Depot went public on September 22, 1981, and after trading on the Nasdaq, the company raised $4.093 million. These funds allowed for the company to expand beyond Atlanta to Florida in 1982, adding two more stores. Collectively Home Depot earned $100 million in revenue across all its stores which led them to join the New York Stock Exchange on April 19, 1984.

1984-1990: Home Depot focuses on strategic expansion

After going public in April, Home Depot purchased Bowater Home Center later that year for $40 million. With this purchase, the company was able to expand once again, this time into the Dallas market. As part of this acquisition, Home Depot offered 2.99 million shares, which were sold at $17 per share. By December 1984, Home Depot had a total of 19 stores which generated $256 million in revenue. To ensure they had a good handle on their finances and ensure they weren’t expanding too rapidly, Home Depot elected to only unveil 10 stores in 1986. By acquiring Bowater Home Center, Home Depot was able to restructure its debts and by the end of the 80s, Home Depot became the largest home improvement retailer in the United States, surpassing Lowe’s.

 

1992-1994: Home Depot continues to seek out partnerships

In 1992, Home Depot partnered with the Olympics, not in an acquisition deal, but as a partnership opportunity. This partnership was the Olympic Job Opportunity Program, and it was launched in 1992. For 17 years, this program employed almost 570 athletes but in 2009, Home Depot had to put an end to this program. In keeping with their community service values, Home Depot allocated $12.5 million towards this initiative and supported affordable housing, environmental causes, and at-risk youth. 

Home Depot acquired another company in 1994, this time Aikenhead’s Hardware. Home Depot purchased Aikenhead’s for $150 million with 75% shares. This helped propel them to run approximately 350 stores across the country, which generated $10 billion in annual sales. 

2000: Home Depot has a new CEO and President

Robert Nardelli, a former General Electric executive, was named Home Depot’s newest CEO and President in 2000. Upon being chosen for this role, Robert launched an effort to expand Home Depot into Mexico. It took him two years to do this after he led Home Depot through the purchase of the Mexico home improvement chain, Del Norte. After this, he continued his expansion into the country building stores in Mexicali and Tijuana. Robert was later succeeded by Frank Blake who was Home Depot’s next CEO.  

2014-Today: The Home Depot appoints a new CEO

After Nardelli and Frank Blake’s leadership, Home Depot appointed Craig Menear to be the company’s new CEO in 2014. Craig has led Home Depot to successfully operate over 2,300 stores that span not only the United States but also Canada, Mexico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Guam. 

Roadblocks Along the Way: 

When it comes to the home improvement space, there are few companies out there that are truly a “one-stop-shop.” Because of this, when it comes to competitors, competition is stiff. Take Lowe’s for instance, Home Depot’s largest competitor. Often consumers will go back and forth between the two companies to compare prices and assess which retailer has the best product for the best deal. That means as a retailer, Home Depot needs to pay close attention to what Lowe’s is doing to drive consumers to their store, and not to Lowe’s. Unlike other retailers who have many more competitors and customers who may not take the time to compare so many different stores, the home improvement space doesn’t have that same luxury. 

Another roadblock that Home Depot has had to navigate is inflation and the home market. When inflation hits, the cost of supplies and lumber is hit hard. Contractors and homeowners are hesitant to buy these materials at a higher cost and may elect to wait until the price drops. Also, if there is a pause in the home buying and building market and fewer people are buying fixer-uppers or plots of land, the lumber and material division of Home Depot will suffer. Despite any roadblocks though, Home Depot has been able to navigate these successfully and continue to come out on top as the leading home improvement retailer year after year. 

The Meaning of The Home Depot’s Logo and The Home Depot’s Logo History

When you look at the Home Depot logo, one thing stands out to you – it’s a whole lot of orange. Nicknamed “Big Orange,” this name depicts the colorful personality of the logo, while also symbolizing success and the desire for even more success. The color choice of orange we will dive into more in a moment, but the color choice ultimately emphasizes action, which Home Depot is all about. 

Since this logo was created over 40 years ago, the logo you remember first seeing is the logo you will see today. Originally designed by Don Watt, a well-respected Canadian brand designer, Don utilized his background in color psychology to help design this logo. Below we take a deeper dive into the specific elements of the Home Depot logo and how the logo came to be. 

1978-Present: The first (and only) version of the The Home Depot logo 

The evolution of the Home Depot logo is quite simple because it has not changed since 1978. Since the logo was first created in 1978, it has been referred to as either “the Stencil” or “Big Orange” and it has included the same orange emblem all these years later. While we just explained why it is nicknamed “Big Orange,” the nickname “the Stencil” comes from Home Depot’s font choice. 

When you look at this logo more closely, you’ll notice that it’s a confident logo with a bold inscription with the registered trademark symbol, ®, all written in an orange square. The wordmark is written in all capital letters, strategically placed diagonally at a 450-degree angle, touching both corners.

Now that we’ve reviewed Home Depot’s brief logo evolution, let’s dive into each of the components of the logo. 

Home Depot’s logo font: 

Home Depot has a highly-legible font for its wordmark. While many brands elect for a custom font that no one can replicate, Home Depot opted for a generic font that is very accessible. The font they went with is “Stencil,” which you can find in Microsoft Office. While this font resembles a stencil, it is bold and charismatic, with serif features at the end of the letters. 

Home Depot’s logo color:

The most prominent color in Home Depot’s logo is their signature orange which originally came from discarded circus tents that were used for their early signage. Ultimately chosen by Don Watt, he chose this color because he wanted to pick a color that would cause customers to perceive the brand as a brand of value and energy, and he wanted a color that the employees could wear on an apron that would stand out. While Bernie was skeptical of this prominent color choice at the start, it was a choice that he grew to love and a choice that paid off! 

At the core, orange is created when red and yellow are mixed, which symbolizes the sun’s energy. Most people associate orange with joy, warmth, and fun, and the color embodies freedom, expression, and creativity. When you look at the logo you feel stimulation, cheerfulness, energy, creativity, and happiness through the vibrant and striking color choice which are all components that Home Depot wanted their logo to convey. 

Another featured color on the logo is white. To balance out the orange color selection, white is a color symbolizing purity which symbolizes the personality of the Home Depot brand’s name. Beyond purity, white also conveys safety, goodness, and humility so, like fellow brands out there, this neutral color was selected to help evoke cleanliness, innocence, and perfection. 

Home Depot’s logo symbols:

Home Depot’s logo is not complex and only includes one symbol, a square that resembles a crate. Beyond resembling a crate which is often used to transport materials and is a symbol of construction, many look at the square to also symbolize the four elements of the world – Earth, water, air, and fire. Some also believe that the geometric nature of the square also conveys security, logic, balance, and direction. 

The Home Depot Today

While Home Depot’s logo has not gone through a rebranding, the company has implemented a catchy logan to complement its logo and stand out from its competition. In December of 2019, Home Depot officially introduced its new slogan “How Doers Get More Done.” 

Beyond the slogan, Home Depot’s marketing strategy (which is predominantly made up of its logo) has helped to position the brand as a household staple. Whether you are a craftsman, contractor, builder, do-it-yourself lover, or something else, Home Depot is the first place you go to. 

Now led by Craig Menear, Home Depot has a net worth of $120 million and operates about 500,000 stores. Almost 45 years since the company was founded, Home Depot has stayed true to its core values and continues to be committed to the business’s social responsibilities through Home Depot’s foundation. 

Today, Home Depot has the title of being the largest home improvement store in the United States and when you stop by the store, you’ll still find a wide array of products from home appliances to builder’s hardware, to lumber and materials, to paint, to anything else you need. And on every storefront, you’ll still find the same orange logo you know and love. 

Lessons Learned from The Home Depot

There are few companies out there that have never gone through logo rebranding. With Home Depot being one of those companies, there are many lessons each of us can learn as we think about what our business’s logo should be. 

The first takeaway from Home Depot’s longstanding logo is to keep your logo legible. Fonts are incredibly important when it comes to creating a logo. When you are mindful of selecting a readable font, you are helping magnify your brand’s image by allowing customers to easily read and identify your brand’s name. If you opt for a font that can’t do this, your brand strategy will be affected. Another takeaway is to keep your logo clean and simple, forgoing various complex design elements. A modest design has been what has made for a memorable logo design with Home Depot. 

How Home Depot has managed to keep a memorable logo all these years is by choosing a logo that is unique and simple, all the while connecting the logo back to its audience. Since their customers can not only relate to the logo but also remember it, it has stood out all these years later. To mimic this strategy for your brand, never choose a trendy design element. 

One final takeaway is to create a scalable and versatile logo, just like Home Depot did. No matter what marketing channel or printed material Home Depot has printed its logo on, it can be scaled up or down without being distorted. With your own company’s logo, try to also choose a simple, minimal logo that can be scaled on whatever medium you choose. 

Crafting a perfect logo is no easy feat. And crafting a logo like Home Depot’s that stands the test of time is easier said than done. The good news is that when you use a service like Hatchwise, you can get one step closer to creating a timeless logo. 

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