Monday, October 18, 2010

The Gap's Brand Boomerang

Original Logo
New Logo
A little over a week ago the Gap suddenly announced a new logo. A very generic logo that boiled down their iconic brand to typeset Helvetica and a blue box. I wasn't a particular fan—my immediate reaction was why? Why do this to your simple, yet effective blue box? A simple Helvetica typeset only improves a logo if it was hideous or too busy to begin with—and that was simply not the case here. All it does is make it extremely generic.

I intended to post about it immediately, though a busy schedule both in and out of work prevented me from really having time to collect my thoughts about it. As luck would have it consumers on Twitter and Facebook ranted plenty for me and shockingly, the Gap did an about face last Tuesday, announcing that they were ditching their new logo in favor of the old one. Thank goodness.

Of course, that was after they ran a crowd sourcing campaign to design their new logo. Crowd sourcing is a cool idea, but maybe not the right approach for your core brand identity—you get a lot of crappy logos. Check out Brand New's post on it, they highlight some of the pieces. And if you scroll down, they'll give you a taste of exactly how generic that new Gap logo really was—by applying the same treatment to a number of other iconic brands. It made me laugh.

Kudos to Gap for swallowing their pride and relenting that what was probably months of hard work was misguided and hated by their target audience (assuming the whole thing was not a big publicity stunt as some have suggested). It really is an interesting study on the power of social media in today's consumer market. Everywhere from brands to politics, one false move can create an enormous wave of bad publicity and anger from the people you're trying to please.


Darryl Jonckheere said...

Here's my take: The Gap logo redesign is a very cleverly concocted PR strategy. One carefully designed to reboot public mindshare and reignite Gap’s slumping sales.

I bet Gap's social media strategists sat in a room and came up with this plan: Create an ugly logo on purpose then tell everyone crowdsourcing the redesign with an open contest is the answer, then capitalize on the fallout and revert back to the original design.
In short, get people talking, tweeting, blogging, sharing and creating mash-ups of the new Gap logo everywhere online.
Only time will tell if this all pans out into something.

Christine said...

Yes, Brand New had a theory on that as well. I'm not sure where I stand on that idea. If it was a PR stunt, they pulled it off quite well and the timing of their Gap Body Fit brand launch might be a little too coincidental. If it was a PR stunt though, it's a bit risky to be playing around with your logo isn't it?