Brand GAP – The old logo is now the new logo

by Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded

The public has spoken. GAP has changed their mind and are staying with their current logo and abandoning the new logo that I blogged about earlier this week. Marka Hansen, GAP North America President, stated, “Now, given the passionate outpouring from customers that followed, we’ve decided to engage in the dialogue, take their feedback on board and work together as we move ahead and evolve to the next phase of GAP.” In other words, people hated the idea of a logo change and GAP decided to dump the new one. GAP admitted the change was a mistake and would table any changes in the foreseeable future.

I will give GAP credit for listening to their customers. As I’ve stated before, brands are about emotion, not color, the stuff you provide, or even the logo. The huge negative response from the public wasn’t against the actual design, per se, but what the old mark stood for in the hearts and minds of their customers. From a professional point of view, there were a couple of problems many designers saw about the new logo besides it being a stupid idea to change in the first place:

• Bad design – Though the bulk of the firestorm wasn’t about design, the new logo did take a beating amongst professional designers. Many thought their 8 year old child could have done better. Several asked if they got the blue square from the Microsoft clip art gallery. In my opinion, the new design was too generic. That’s okay if you’re selling off brands of t-shirts and socks for $3 and $1 respectively. But, at the GAP, you’re paying over $35 for a graphic t-shirt. The GAP is not utilitarian, it’s still about fashion and how that fashion makes you feel. The item and where you bought it both gives you an emotional experience, if done well, keeps you coming back for more.

• Crowd sourcing – I know this is a hot buzz word today and many marketers put this in their bag of tools. It is useful when applied appropriately. In this case, it wasn’t. When they unveiled the new logo and started to get massive push back, the GAP stated in social media sites that if you wanted to submit alternative designs, they would love to see them. Of course, you were not going to be paid if they chose your design. It’s crowd sourcing. Who pays for that? To me, this is wrong. You’re asking for free designs, especially from professional designers since they knew most of the blow back came from the design community. The GAP stated they wanted the design community to help “fix” the logo… for free. Hey, it’s social media and that should be free, shouldn’t it?

Though I give GAP credit for backing off a bad idea, I can help but to think why did they start down this path to begin with? What made them so desperate that they believed a new logo would change the customer perception? And why throw away $4 billion worth of brand equity?

A logo is only an outward expression of what is truly your brand. This is a great case of “brand gap”. (pun intended)


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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