You probably only think about 7-Eleven if you’re in the mood for a Slurpee or when you need that extra battery for your remote control in the middle of the night. While you definitely won’t pay much attention to its fluorescent sign (yes, it’s a big red and orange seven), there are a few details on the unmistakable logo.
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The company’s legal name is 7-Eleven. Why not 7-11 or even Seven-Eleven? The latter would be more annoying to write, sure, but at least the style would be consistent. But since it is a 24-hour convenience store, won’t 24-7 (or 24-Seven) made more sense? And why is the N in Eleven not capitalized like the rest of the word?
Turns out, there are real explanations for (almost) all of these observations, straight from 7-Eleven, Inc. But to know more about the logo, we need to dig into its history first.
It all started slightly after World War I
In 1927, Joe Thompson, an employee of the Southland Ice Company in Dallas, Texas, began selling eggs, milk, and bread from a makeshift storefront in one of the company’s icehouses. These bare necessities were kept cold thanks to the ice Southland produced, and local residents liked the convenience of avoiding the crowds and aisles of a regular grocery store if they only had to pick up a few items.
Before it was 7-Eleven, it was called Tote’m Stores
Thompson eventually bought out the ice company and started opening convenient little stores all over Texas. Shortly after, a company executive brought a souvenir totem pole back from a trip to Alaska and set it in front of one of the busiest locations. Soon, the spot had earned the nickname the “Tote’m Store,” not only because of the totem pole but because customers toted away their purchases. The company officially adopted the name and decorated their locations with an Inuit-inspired theme to match. Also, the stores’ logo used a large totem pole as the T.
7-Eleven means from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
By 1946, Southland had several shops under the names Tote’m and City Ice and wanted to give all of its stores a common name. It was Tracy-Locke Advertising that chose the famed “7-11” to reflect the stores new extended hours — 7:00 am to 11:00 pm—in order to capitalize on the post-World War II economic boom.
It was until one night in Austin that changed everything
Yup, you read it right. The store was not always the 24-hour establishment we know of today. In fact, it wasn’t until 1963 that stores adopted the hours we know today. A location near the University of Texas decided to stay open past 11 to accommodate students shopping after a late football game. Sales boomed, and the store decided to stay open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Well, naturally the rest of the company followed suit.
From T to 7
With this new name came a new logo: a large red “7” with “Eleven” spelled out and running through the numeral (visually similar to Tote’m’s totem pole T, but 7-Eleven, Inc. doesn’t know if this connection was intentional), all placed over a green four-leaf clover to symbolize good luck and good fortune. And for the record, “Eleven” had all capital letters.
The theory behind 7-ELEVEn
So why was 7 a numeral and 11 wasn’t? 7-Eleven, Inc. replies during a statement, “The specific reason is unknown.”
Then, of course, there’s the mildly infuriating lowercase N in the otherwise capitalized Eleven. “One theory is that Thompson’s wife thought the logo seemed a little harsh with all capital letters and suggested that the capital ‘N’ be changed to lowercase so the logo would look more graceful,” shares 7-Eleven, Inc.
Another interesting (and unofficial) theory is more interesting: according to Fengshui, since the store is often located in the corner of a street (in Malaysia case, some of them in the corner of a shopping centre), the lowercase “n” is used as it is “smoother” and will, therefore, draw money or luck.
Well, whichever is true, here’s one thing: with more supermarkets opening 24 hours in Malaysia now (especially since Japanese convenience store franchise chain Family Mart came into Malaysia), 7-Eleven will need to depend more than just their logo to attract more customers.