Gap Gets Bullied Out of Its New Logo

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Image by: The Gap

Uh-oh. Perhaps the Gap should have taken advantage of social media before it rolled out its new logo.

Popular American clothing brand Gap rolled out their new logo last week without much fanfare. The public’s reaction to it, on the other hand, was an entirely different story.

By now you’ve probably seen the new logo. And you’ve probably added your own “this is downright awful and dated and what’s up with the Helvetica?” rant to the bottom of every comment section you could – your closest friends bearing the brunt of your frustrations at this latest branding effort gone wrong. Heck, it was probably the hot topic at the dinner table on Thanksgiving.

That tiny, floating gradient square really got people’s backs up. And the plethora haters were out in full force, using social media tools to vent their strong emotions.

It’s a poignant example of this age of authenticity in which businesses are expected to tell the truth, but they’d better be prepared for consumers to be just as honest.  Sites like buzzfeed.com were filled with jeering statements, and a series of “poor decisions” and “ews” (words that are part of the site’s rating system) made their way down the page. While blog posts and articles such as “There’s branding in a cool, fun, contemporary way. And there’s whatever the f@!*k Gap did” and “New Gap Logo is a Box of Fail” were in abundance. More importantly, fans, designers and webizens immediately set out creating their own new Gap logos, prompting Gap to rethink their design on the very evening of the day it was revealed.

Remarkably, in mere hours, Gap seemed to buckle under the pressure of a job not-so-well-done. Caving to the controversy, the company encouraged fans to share their own designs for a new logo, writing on their Facebook wall:

“We’ve had the same logo for 20+ years, and this is just one of the things we’re changing. We know this logo created a lot of buzz and we’re thrilled to see passionate debates unfolding. So much we’re asking you to share your designs. We love our version, but we’d like to see other ideas.”

Days later, the company completely caved, announcing on Monday night that they would in fact be ditching the new logo to return to the old one.

Which begs the question: Why didn’t Gap use social media and ask the crowd to vote on a new logo versus an old one in the first place?

Presumably, they didn’t think they had to. They liked the logo. They went with the logo.

And that’s not such a bad thing. It’s certainly got people talking about the brand. And I am definitely not advocating design by crowd sourcing. It’s just that social media can be such a great research tool. It can penetrate the masses – clearly.

The turnaround time between Gap’s logo launch and retraction is pretty astonishing. I think it’s got to be the fastest retraction in history – even the New Coke lasted a month or two before it was declared a total flop. And it’s all thanks to the web and social media that this hullabaloo began, which goes to show you that you cannot underestimate the power of engaging consumers online.

It will be interesting to see what happens next. So many questions come to mind like who designed the new Gap logo? And was it all a hoax to generate publicity? I guess we’ll have to wait to see what answers emerge. Only time, and the voice of social media, will tell.



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