Plano’s J.C. Penney Gets a Makeover: New Logo, Ellen DeGeneres, and Apple-Style Genius Bars?

The new logo. Kind of makes you want to put your hand over your heart and pledge allegiance, no?

When Joseph Guinto wrote about Ron Johnson, the new CEO of Plano-based J.C. Penney, in the September issue of D CEO, he raised a number of questions about what the former Apple and Target executive could do for the department store. On Johnson’s branding expertise:

If an executive from Apple is supposed to know anything, it is what the kids (under 35 counts, right?) want these days. And, anyone at Apple–where products launch with a similar look, feel, and level of hype–should have a solid understanding of branding. But Apple products cost a lot of money. The average price for a women’s blouse at J.C. Penney is $15. And, besides, is it fair to compare a shiny iPod to a pair of cotton underpants?

Well, J.C. Penney unveiled its big makeover plan this week, and it would seem that cotton underpants may be getting something closer to the iPod treatment. Stores will begin sporting a new logo (above), the company’s third in three years.

They’ve also unveiled new three-tiered, simplified pricing that they’re calling “Fair and Square Pricing,” which is meant to be represented by that subtly patriotic new logo. Ellen DeGeneres has been brought in as a spokesperson to “help bring the new jcpenney experience to life in her own fun-loving, sneaker-wearing, laugh-making way.”

But most remarkable of all? Johnson, the man behind the creation of Apple’s retail cathedrals hipster havens orgasmatrons shops is bringing some of that same philosophy to transform the staid department store design:

Mr. Johnson and (company president) Mr. Francis also outlined plans to entirely re-invent the jcpenney store experience, to include Main Street – the entire store merchandised in a series of 80 to 100 brand shops, rather than the confusing and seemingly endless racks common in department stores today. It will also feature Town Square – an exciting new place that replaces the traditional retail center core of a department store with a series of services, which customers will enjoy before they buy, while they shop and afterwards. And, throughout, the new jcpenney store experience will merge the physical and digital worlds, assuring the physical retail stores’ vital role as the centerpiece of retailing’s future.

Yep, sounds like J.C. Penney will soon sport its own version of Genius Bars. Just imagine it. One day soon you’ll be able to walk into “Town Square” at your local jcpenney (after you’ve made an appointment?) and ask for help with any number of issues, like “why can’t I fit into this pair of chinos,” or “is my Liz Claiborne blouse compatible with this Gloria Vanderbilt custom-waist denim? Or do I need an upgrade?”

No wonder Forbes is calling J.C. Penney “the most interesting retail story of the year.”


  • DGirl

    Love the modernization of jcp but seriously, seriously hate the screaming commercials.

  • I’m so excited about this. I have shopped at JCP for many years and, I’ve always found just about anything that I have searched for to buy there. . Looking forward to this upgrade and I will be there on Feb. 1st.

  • Matt

    Are they looking to capitalize on the publicity that aborted Gap logo got? Why not just pay $15 and get a better one from Awful.

  • Obama’s Seat

    They just changed their logo about a year or so ago.

  • BrandonS

    I understand and applaud JCP (jcp) for making a valiant effort to bring people back to their stores, but the patriotism is lost on me. Now, If they update their logos for Arizona Jeans and St. John’s Bay, then we’re cooking with gas.

  • JCP Associate

    Get Reday for 2-1-12. its going to be BIGGGGGGGGGGG!

  • CollinBabs

    I don’t think this is going to end well.

  • Brenda

    HATE your new tv ad…too MUCH screaming.plllllllease change to something more pleasing. you got my attention, but beginning to dislike your store….

  • EX JCP Shopper

    Well, it’s good to finally see the company admit that the last logo change (which was a year ago, mind you) was terrible. Many of my friends who work there hated the last logo too, management loved it.

    As an aside, the last logo was designed by an intern.

    Looks like they stole this one from Old Navy.