Gap has a new logo. Why?

by Tony Fanin, President, BE Branded

The Gap has changed their logo. After 20+ years the company has decided they needed a facelift. The big question is, why? Is it because of sliding sales over the last few years? Are they strategically changing directions? Or, are they just bored? According to Interbrand, the Gap is the 84th most valuable brand. It is worth an estimated $4 billion. That means, just because it has the name Gap on a product, it could sell $4 billion worth of merchandise in a single year.

This poses a good question, when is it the best call to change a logo and when is it best to stay with what you’ve got? Each situation is as varied as there are businesses, but there are some core guidelines that apply. Here are but a few that I believe in:

Why change
• Bad image –  Sometimes there is just no saving a brand because of their past. Take Enron, for example. It would cost way too much just to get back to ground zero, let alone, begin building brand equity to make it worth something someday.

• Confusing image – There are times when a brand gets too confusing. The company and what it stands for has gotten so convoluted over the years, that nobody knows what they are all about. Think JCPenny’s.

• Wholesale strategic shift – If a company decides to completely change the business they are in, that would be a good reason to change their logo as well. If your brand promise and who you serve is going to be completely different than where you are now, a new logo helps signify that you are a completely different company. Abercrombie and Fitch started out as a retailer who sold outdoor and hunting apparel. Now, they are a brand for the the hip and young.

When not to change
• Slow sales – A logo change doesn’t help sales in the long run. Yes, you’ll get a spike, but more from the PR value. It won’t last and soon you’ll be back where you were before the new logo launch. Brands aren’t about the logo, so what your  company delivers in terms of a brand promise, they will continue to do so, even with the new logo. If you don’t change from the inside, no amount of external clothing will make a long-term difference.

• You’re bored – Just because a company is bored or feel their logo is out of date, isn’t a good reason why you need a wholesale change. The Morton Salt girl has changed over the decades. Updated dresses, boots, umbrella, but you still know it’s Morton’s Salt. Now, there’s a difference between out of date and out of touch. A company can make subtle changes to get up-to-date, but being out of touch means they have more problems than just the logo.

• To recapture the magic – Most companies “rebrand” to try to recapture the magic that launched them into elite status. A logo is not rebranding, it’s decoration. All pretty, but no substance. If you want to recapture the magic, the rebranding effort needs to go back to what made them special in the first place and rekindle that love affair their customers had with the original brand.

Yes, all brands need to stay current and relevant. They need to stay fresh and important to their customers lives. People change and a brand must change with them. But, this doesn’t mean being somebody you’re not. It also doesn’t mean being something your customers don’t want you to be either. If you have the brand equity the Gap has, there is something still right about who they are at their core. They may have lost the magic, but not why people still love them. Instead of spending money on a new logo and new marketing campaign to support the new logo, they should concentrate on how to recapture the magic of their brand and market that.

Just because you got new clothes, doesn’t mean you’re a different person. Is this a tale of the emperor wearing the same clothes, but thinks they are different? I would be very interested in your opinion about Gap’s new logo and if they should or shouldn’t have changed it.


About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.


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