2006 AIGA CORPORATE LEADERSHIP AWARD
Recognized for changing the cultural understanding and appreciation of design, communicating the importance of design to consumers, and its steadfast commitment to championing and advocating design.
Target's first store opened in 1962 with a commitment to carrying attractive, well-engineered merchandise at affordable prices. By stocking its shelves with name-brand lines and fashion-forward products, it came to occupy a rather commanding, if contradictory, niche in the marketplace: Target became the world's first upscale discount retailer.
But it was in 1999 that Target revolutionized the discount retail experience completely, tapping legendary architect and industrial designer Michael Graves to create a line of signature housewares. From cookware to fashion to home décor, a world-class list of designers including Graves, Thomas O'Brien, Isaac Mizrahi, Philippe Starck, and the late Stephen Sprouse, have since appended “for Target” to their newest creations, and the Target name became forever synonymous with great design.
“Design for All” became Target's mantra in 2002, with a special website launched to communicate the value of design and its role in everyday life. And, as Target explains, while good design does mean chic cashmere sweaters and ergonomic kitchen utensils, it also means promoting creativity, innovation and technology. And, perhaps most importantly, Target believes that design means a commitment to better living, as affirmed by its own in-house design pursuits. Target has recently adopted Deborah Adler's revolutionary ClearRx prescription bottle design throughout its pharmacies, championed the environmentally-responsible Method cleaning products in their stores, and designed a home emergency preparedness kit.
As the second-largest general merchandise retailer in the United States, with 1,443 stores in 47 states employing nearly 300,000 people, Target has also vowed to bring great design to the communities it serves. The company donates 5 percent of all pre-tax profit back to its communities, resulting in more than $2 million per week returned to Target neighborhoods. This includes grants for museums, arts events, and volunteerism in design schools and programs. Several education programs, notably the Design Explorers program in partnership with AIGA, instill the importance of design in young people.
The dedication to great design carries through to marketing Target's own brand. Target's advertising and design is consistently awarded in international competitions; flashy, fun TV spots which combine cutting-edge music video direction with spot-on animation are some of the most memorable commercials in recent history. The company nearly owns the color red, too: manufacturers often create special red versions of products for Target stores. The logo itself, Target's bullseye brandmark, carries such cache it has snagged the eye of high fashion. A line of clothing and accessory pieces with the Target logo are sold in upscale boutiques, making it almost certainly the only discount retailer to have its products sold in other retail stores.
Stepping inside the brand experience at one of Target's stores, the meticulous nature of Target's design philosophy truly comes to life. Of course, the stores are delightfully smart: aisles are wide, shelves are bright, packaging is thoughtful, signage is unmistakable. But Target's true brilliance is the clever balance of both what products it carries and how it carries them. By placing well-designed products alongside the basic needs for living, Target has made good design look indispensable—as much of a necessity as toothpaste.