Oct
15
2010

Gap gets its identity back

Gap gets its identity back

New logo for Gap

Last week, my twitter timeline gave hints that Gap has unveiled a new logo. Many of us mistook it as another marketing gimmick. But, in no time, it was confirmed that Gap had indeed gone for a Branding change. Vice President of Corporate Communications, Bill Chandler had described it as “a more contemporary, modern expression.

Soon there was a backlash against Gap’s new logo and it grew intense by the hour. Customers were not too upbeat about the change and ridiculed it enough through the social media. Flocking status updates, tweets and new innovative ways of protests such as Gap styled logo generators and a mocking twitter account were on display.

Just to let you know, the new logo of Gap had been designed by Laird and Partners. The New York based creative agency has had a long relation with the company, where Trey Laird, the agency head has served as Creative head of Gap for many years.

Old and new logo for Gap

Gap was quick to take charge and respond with a statement thanking everyone for their input on the new logo. “We’ve had the same logo for 20+ years… we’re asking you to share your designs. We love our version, but we’d like to see other ideas.

However, after getting thumbs down from everyone on their crowdsourcing contest, Gap decided to abandon these attempts and return to its original logo. “We only want what’s best for the brand and our customers. So instead of crowdsourcing, we’re bringing back the Blue Box tonight,” was stated on the brand’s facebook page. Regardless of this rebranding failure, it has been reported that the relationship between Gap and its creative agency, Laird and Partners, continues strong.

Key Learnings

It will be unfair if we don’t give it to Gap for trying to rebrand itself. It was a certainly a gutsy move. Given that there are many companies with outdated branding that won’t rebrand themselves, it should set a good path to follow.

Also, it is hardly ever that a change is met with an enthusiastic response. Facebook redesigns have always been a good set of examples in this case. We as a community should have ideally responded in a more sophisticated manner. As I believe, the common response was too sudden and cold.

Were we personally involved in the branding process? No. We are not even aware of the company’s plan for the future. I completely agree that visually the logo had negligible appeal, but was such a strong backlash required? May be, may be not. Let us not forget that design is a process, certainly not an urgent decision or instruction.

It is a happy moment for us that we command a strong voice through social media, strong enough to compel a revoke of a brand change. At the same time, let us give full credit to Gap for listening to its customers. Had they not listened and reverted to the old logo, what would have happened at most? Do you really believe that the company would have registered an annual loss because of its rebranding?

Perhaps, it was not the best way to announce (or in Gap’s case, not announce) a brand change. However, the company was quick to listen, act as the customers suggested and make up for the immediate loss.

Furthermore, if this was meant to be a PR exercise, it has worked on a big scale. Agreed that the common picture of the company is negative but so what? Everyone is talking about them! Possibly in the form of criticism, suggestion or just a neutral remark, Gap is being nevertheless, talked about.

Another take away from this case study is that finally the customers have a strong say. Thanks to social media, every thought or reaction is quickly conveyed. On the other side, every company (new or established, alike) must be wary while going ahead with a big change.

These are the times when Newton’s law gets rewritten – every action (read change) has an X time opposite reaction. Amen!

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About the Author:

Himanshu Khanna is the founder of Pixelonomics and a senior designer at Sparklin. If you’d like to connect with him, follow him on Twitter: @SparklinGuy

  • http://nidhig.wordpress.com nidhign

    A well-strucutured article. It truly represents the power we, as consumers, hold in our hands today, that is strong enough to make a renowned brand take back its decision. Though it tends to get a bit digressive towards the end, it makes the impact it is supposed to make. Long live social media! :)

    • http://www.pixelonomics.com/ Himanshu Khanna

      Thanks @Nidhi. I wanted to see this story from all sides.

  • http://www.twitter.com/vishu2max Vishal

    Himanshu thanks for the sharing this .. I was not aware of this rebranding process.. as far as logo is concerned i’m with the old logo but as you rightly pointed we cant comment unless we knw what was their vision and motive behind the rebranding.

    Good to see Brands not only communicating with their consumers thru Social media but also listening to their voices.

    I have a couple of question for you :

    Apart from being a consumer did being a designer led you to write this post ? Also as a designer did you see any logic behind the new logo ?

    Is there a possibility that Gap wanted to create some publicity and wanted to convey a message that how much they care about their consumers ( by listening to their voice) ?

    • http://www.pixelonomics.com/ Himanshu Khanna

      Thanks @Vishal. Yes I tried to look for answers from all sides, consumer, designer etc. Unfortunately, I am unaware of the design brief given for the logo, so can’t comment.

      Yes the possibility is very high!

  • megha

    it was just a PR stunt..their plan worked thanks to social media.

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