H-E-B Grocery Company, LP is a family-owned and operated food retailer. With more than 340 outlets, the chain was ranked among the top 10 largest privately held organizations by Forbes, the U.S. business magazine. It received this honor in 2020 thanks to record revenue from the previous reporting period. Some of the money is regularly sent to charities. In addition, the firm has spent huge sums to operate without cash registers, replacing them with mobile apps or self-service systems.
Meaning and History
At the head of H-E-B has always been the Butt family. First, it was Florence who opened a small grocery store in 1905, for which she donated the first floor of her house. When her son returned from the war, he took over the family business, but he only managed to increase the number of outlets in 1927. A few years later, the department stores were called H-E-B – after the initials Howard Edward Butt. C.C. Butt Grocery Store, established by Florence, was incorporated and renamed to match the new branding.
Early H-E-B marketing campaigns attracted many customers because Howard organized giveaways ranging from coins and chickens to money, mink coats, and cars. Such advertising was used in the early 1930s. In the 1950s, the chain had its bakeries, drugstores, butchers, and fishmongers. However, it did not sell alcoholic beverages because Howard was a follower of Baptism.
As of 2021, the company had more than 340 locations. They are operated by the billionaire Charles Clarence Butt, who became president in 1971. The well-known philanthropist uses the family business to donate 5% of the proceeds to charity.
All H-E-B supermarkets share a common identity based on a recognizable logo. It is a wordmark designed in the form of a red sign with white lettering. In the center is the actual name of the network, and judging by the old-fashioned typeface, the design was invented a long time ago, or modern graphic artists stylized it to fit a bygone era.
The word “H-E-B” is placed inside a rectangle, which looks like an oval because of the round sides. Its interior is entirely red, and two thin lines, white and red, are drawn along the edge. Despite the two-part outline, the visual sign looks very simple and has a 2D design. Designers did not add fashionable nowadays gradients, so the symbol is available only in one version.
Font and Colors of the Emblem
More than one generation of shoppers is familiar with the H-E-B sign. It can be seen in all supermarkets, which are part of a chain. Although it may seem outdated, it has an important advantage: the consistent logo makes stores recognizable and differentiates them from their competitors.
The letters in the “H-E-B” lettering have a non-standard design because their top is wider than the bottom. The side strokes of the “H” are not strictly vertical but at an angle, and they are directed in different directions. The bottom horizontal line “E” is shorter than the top but longer than the one in the middle. The “B” is also asymmetrical: its halves are the same shape but differ in size. The font looks like a bold grotesque, although it is more like a set of individual glyphs.
The color combination of red and white is used to attract attention. Moreover, red encourages shopping, while white symbolizes light and purity, evoking subconscious trust in the supermarket chain.