Oct 14, 2010

Gap Logo Fiasco: Why Did the New Logo Fail?

Last week Gap attempted to launch a redesigned logo. Their famous blue box logo is 20 years old and the company wanted to give it a modern makeover. The redesign chosen to represent this company was generic at best. They changed from the serif, all caps typeface inside the blue box to a black Helvetica upper and lower case typeface with a tacky blue gradient box shoved up in the corner of the p in the word Gap. After viewing a few of the posts on Facebook, I have observed first-hand the discontent this change caused upon their customers.

Over the years, Gap has achieved what every company lusts after—corporate branding. This is when the company becomes a household name and they are identified through their established logos. Corporate branding confirms your company’s credibility and it brings with it customer loyalty as it connects with the consumers emotionally. In a sense, the corporation no longer owns their brand. The brand becomes much more than just a brand or a logo to the customer. Customers identify themselves with the brands they wear and surround their lives with. Logos are not just logos; they are an identification of not just a company, but of the person wearing the logo. Marka Hansen, President of Gap Brand North America stated, “Ultimately, we’ve learned just how much energy there is around our brand.” This is a huge responsibility to companies” (gap).

Rebranding can become detrimental if the consumers are not on board with the change. For what is a company without consumers? Basically, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it! And this is exactly what we saw with the Gap logo fiasco. Hansen admitted, “We’ve learned a lot in this process. And we are clear that we did not go about this in the right way. We recognize that we missed the opportunity to engage with the online community. This wasn’t the right project at the right time for crowd sourcing. There may be a time to evolve our logo, but if and when that time comes, we’ll handle it in a different way“(Gap).

After wave upon wave of negative customer responses, Hansen announced that Gap would be reinstating the original blue box logo, “Since we rolled out an updated version of our logo last week on our website, we’ve seen an outpouring of comments from customers and the online community in support of the iconic blue box logo” (Gap). Why didn’t it work? Because the logo they chose looked like it was slapped together by a total amateur. The blue gradient box seems as though it was stuck up in the corner as an afterthought. In the words of David Foster Wallace, “It looks like you can write a minimalist piece without much bleeding. And you can. But not a good one.” I believe with a company like Gap, their consumers expected a much more professional, hip design. Not child play.

So what is the company doing with their logo now? “99designs launched an open design contest to “Design a Better GAP Logo” in response to the criticism designers and GAP customers around the world expressed when the GAP recently unveiled its own logo redesign. The project was open for anyone to participate and received 4,660 submissions from over 1,000 designers in just 5 days. The submissions can be viewed at http://99designs.com/logo-design/contests/design-better-gap-logo-community-project-54693; the winning design will be decided by community vote and presented to GAP management in a gesture of goodwill” (Kansas City Star).

Edwards, Jim. “5 Things the Gap Logo Flip-Flop Can Teach You About Branding.” The CBS Interactive Business Network. bNet.com. http://www.bnet.com/blog/advertising-business/5-things-the-gap-logo-flip-flop-can-teach-you-about-branding/6162?tag=content;drawer-container. October 11, 2010
Geoghegan, Tom. “Lessons to be Learnt from the Gap Logo Debacle” BBC News Magazine. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-1151712912. October 2010.
Kansas City Star. Kansas City.com. http://www.kansascity.com/2010/10/11/2301403/99designs-holds-design-contest.html#ixzz12I3qETd5. 13 October 2010.
Hansen,Marka. Gap Press Release. http://www.gapinc.com/public/Media/Press_Releases/med_pr_GapLogoStatement10112010.shtml. 13 October 2010.

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