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logo no-no

Gap Rebrands Itself Into Oblivion

Posted by Abe Sauer on October 6, 2010 01:00 PM

Did you hear that Gap has redesigned its logo? Probably not, as it's been pretty quiet about it. In fact, the only recent news out of Gap of late has been its donate-your-old-jeans drive and its annual kids' casting call.

But go to its homepage and there it is — or more accurately, isn't, as its classic blue-boxed logo is missing, replaced with a Helvetica Gap with a box perched behind the 'p' like a window.

Yes, after dominating the late 1990s and early 2000s, Gap has dropped its iconic logo in favor of something that looks like it cost $17 from an old Microsoft Word clipart gallery.

By now everyone knows the story of how Gap's over-expansion, soft consumer spending and changing styles conspired to drag the clothing retailer down from its once-lofty position.

But the brand itself, along with its siblings Old Navy and Banana Republic, is still strong with Gap Inc. putting up $14.2 billion in revenue last year and Q2 sales increases in 2010 (though Gap itself registered a loss).

But ditching the classic logo, recognized by everyone, in favor of whatever that new monstrosity is, demonstrates a prototypical brand panic move. With things not going in its favor, the brand decides to change the one valuable element it has going for it.

Ironically maybe, the new logo is perfect for the brand. It communicates exactly the values currently embodied by Gap: A sense of being lost and a lack of clear vision and creativity. (Update: Gap responded on its Facebook page, turning this into a crowdsourcing exercise. Seriously. Oct. 12 Update to that update: Gap has pulled the new logo.)

While Gap has been using the Helvetica font on its signage and windows for some time, going whole hog on the font by remaking its logo is a bit surprising. We'd have to assume that Gap's creative team would have seen Gary Hustwit's Helvetica documentary, about how overly ubiquitous the font has become in recent years:

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Stuart Thursby Canada says:

That's exactly it — it's a bad logo, made even worse because it demonstrates a total lack of commitment or self-belief more than any lack of aesthetic judgment (though that as well).

Forgive the self-promotion, but I wrote a bit more about this on a post here: http://sthursby.com/thoughts/?p=474

October 6, 2010 01:37 PM #

Steve United States says:

Here’s a different take on their re-branding, they may be onto something. Or, maybe they really are that far disconnected...


October 6, 2010 01:57 PM #

A Sauer United States says:

If Gap's move is that... "black ops" it's in trouble because it's thinking way past its market. That compares it to the Dominos pizza campaign to "fix" the brand but that misses that Domino's is about fixing the offering, not just the logo. Unless what that is suggesting is that Gap is purposefully sabotaging its brand to put it in position to beg for consumers' help in which case it's not just the branding disaster of the decade, but maybe the century.  

October 6, 2010 02:05 PM #

Tam United States says:

That is a god awful logo. If they at least took out the box then it'd help a little bit.

October 6, 2010 03:24 PM #

Alex United States says:

Then it would just be a font.
And still an ugly one at that.

October 8, 2010 08:20 PM #

pu Australia says:

They mostly likely got a very savvy brand consultant who told them if they wanted to be the talk of town, change the logo to something really really crap. and after you get all the media attention you wanted, change it back.

October 6, 2010 07:15 PM #

Matt Mickiewicz United States says:

And now there's a Facebook Community Page for that....

"I think the New Gap Logo Sucks":

October 6, 2010 08:14 PM #

Bernadette Jiwa Australia says:

Are you aware that Gap have announced some sort of crowd sourced logo redesign on their Facebook page?

Not sure if this whole thing has been a social media marketing experiment?


October 7, 2010 03:18 AM #

Cameron Sabine United States says:

yeh my brother is submitting designs for it on the contest, he said its got over 3000 designs submitted

October 11, 2010 01:26 AM #

Greg Reihing United States says:

I'm convinced they are trying to get away from looking like the GM Logo found on those "goverment motors" vehicles.

October 7, 2010 09:09 AM #

asit Hong Kong S.A.R. says:

They needed to fix the product not the logo. A bad logo change will further compound the problems for the brand and the business. Waste of money ! While ZARA launches a shopping  APP and starts to build presence at airports ( at least in Asia) GAP is doing a logo change.
How about having an Asia business strategy? Might deliver more ROI .

October 7, 2010 10:25 AM #

Tracy Levitz United States says:

The original Gap logo was classic ans tasteful but accessible -- like Gap clothes on a good day. Like the camel dress I bought back in 1996 and still look great in.

Changing a logo is a cheap ploy to distract from and avoid recognizing other issues. And, given American Apparel's use of upper and lower Helvetica Bold, I would've discarded that typeface immediately. F**kin' lazy, kids.

October 7, 2010 10:27 AM #

Ho Jo United Kingdom says:

I think that you are attaching more importance to the logo than is really the case with a clothing store, especially for a brand like Gap.  Their target market don't wear their clothes to show off a logo - this isn't Levi's red tab... I don't need people to know where my clothes are from if I shop in Gap... the clothing should speak for itself and if people ask, then the wearer will tell them...  I would agree with others that Gap's problems stem from a business and product offering issue, which hopefully they are beginning to finally fix with the launch of their gap.eu transactional website (10 years late to the party, however - but better late, than never)

October 7, 2010 10:32 AM #

pu Australia says:

People who don't care what label they wear shop at target, not GAP.

October 7, 2010 06:35 PM #

Ho Jo United Kingdom says:

And that's why GAP sweatshirts aside, all their clothes carry a prominent logo, right?

October 8, 2010 05:12 AM #

Mark Lightfoot Malta says:

This might just be the start of a crowd sourcing experiment? Their Facebook page seems to be implying that the 'new' logo was just a hook and they are now reeling in all the opinions and feedback from designers, for free. Talk about clever marketing!

October 7, 2010 10:38 AM #

A Sauer United States says:

Mark, that appears to be the case. See our update:

October 7, 2010 11:43 AM #

Ron Sawchuk Canada says:

Not the smartest choice in the world to casually throw away brand equity, however they could have done worse. They could have done an IKEA and thrown away Futura for a system font typeface.

October 7, 2010 10:51 AM #

pu Australia says:

how could you compare what IKEA to this watergap scandal.
Ikea's change was negligible. No one in the general public would have noticed it.

October 7, 2010 06:35 PM #

Christian Fuenfhausen United States says:

Who did this. Let's name some names? Seriously. Who would dare to take credit for this?

As a designer, I want to know whom to mock. This is sad and pathetic work, indeed.

Sure, sure, "the client is king" and all, and the Gap braintrust obviously have lost their f-ing minds, or have zero ideas other than "use the typeface American Apparel uses". . . but seriously.

The problem isn't the poor design of the logo -- it's the thinking (or lack thereof) behind it. If you're going to bother to send a signal, send a positive one. This says "we're clueless and desperate".

And as re-designs go, this is worse than the  abomination Wolff Olins inflicted on us New Yorkers with the re-design of our taxis. At least that had an aggressive weirdness to it.

October 7, 2010 11:11 AM #

pu Australia says:

Helvetica hardly belongs to american apparel

October 7, 2010 06:36 PM #

Tracy Levitz United States says:

That's not... typeface...logotype...brand category....*opens mouth* .... *closes mouth*

October 7, 2010 07:32 PM #

Heather United Kingdom says:

Funny that you mentioned MS Word, that was my thought as well: it looks like one of the default logo designs included with Microsoft Publisher.

October 7, 2010 11:40 AM #

Horrible Logos United States says:

They only gave me $5. What did you expect?


October 7, 2010 12:37 PM #

A Sauer United States says:


October 7, 2010 06:05 PM #

steve85 United States says:

I wouldn't be too concerned with this logo. Although it looks like Silicon Valley decided to design, real designers are predicting this will go to the scraps. http://gnomeflash.com/ gives some good analysis through the eyes of a designer. I have to agree with them that this is the Tropicana logo change all over again.

October 7, 2010 01:09 PM #

BRANDING=m3 United States says:

oh my! they've redesigned the logo AGAIN! and YES, they're asking us to VOTE on it! heaven help us! http://wp.me/pIfvI-qs

October 7, 2010 04:09 PM #

c mitchell United States says:

i wanna meet the people who sold them this sorry excuse for a logo. wow. and this is supposed to be more modern than the previous logo????

October 7, 2010 09:45 PM #

Judy Thomas United States says:

Unbelievable.  There was nothing wrong with the original logo - but the apparel and accessories offerings were becoming predictable and boring.  Now, the 'New gap Logo' follows suit.  It looks like a logo for a software company that specializes in the gap between information bits, not contemporary affordable but cool fashion.  Hey - Would the execs at the Gap like to hire me as a Branding Consultant?  No, really!   teach branding and logo design to college level Design majors, and I am certain they could create a more relevant logo and ad campaign than what is out there now. By the way, I am also an artist using recycled plastic bags for my site-specific sculpture. The Navy & White GAP bag was highly recognizable, even cut up.  Sad. I guess I should start hoarding the old bags.....

October 7, 2010 11:01 PM #

Judy Thomas United States says:

typo above - missing and I before teach...
then, .....I am so curious want branding company came up with this and for what price.  

October 7, 2010 11:09 PM #

SJG United States says:

I agree the blue square is old and played out, but if they felt the need to change, they should have gone "back in the day" to the old Gap logo from the 1970s and 1980s and maybe tweaked it a little.  This just makes them look like American Apparel wannabes...how did such a huge company not understand that?  It's like someone at the Gap made a funny in-house film mocking AA and used this as the logo.  But it's REAL! Yipes!!

October 7, 2010 11:31 PM #

kim United States says:

I'm just a consumer who works for one of the companies owned by Gap. You can analyze it all you want but the general buying public has better things to do with it's time then worry about unbelievably trivial and unimportant things like this. You people need to get a life of get on drugs. Choose.

October 8, 2010 12:38 AM #

Leban Hyde United States says:

I've been reading these boards all day on various favorite sites. My hunch is that this is a publicity stunt. And guess what–it's working. The boards are a flutter with feedback. All publicity is good publicity? Don't know. But however cheap the maneuver, the Gap is back in the conversation.

By the way, when you work with brands and identities for a living, this IS your life ; )

October 8, 2010 01:22 AM #

Alex Chikovani Georgia says:

Dear GAP you have made TRANSATLANTIC MISTAKE ! Before it is not too late, STOPP it ! And get back to old mark ! In which you have invested HUGE AMOUNT OF:

- Money;
- Time;

And which has a huge share of GAP's Brand Equity !  You are LOVED because you was different ! And now you are entering visual ocean called ME-TOO !

If you want to change something, refresh your brand, do it within your communication, assortment, item design and quality - this is in my opinion where you have to work hard, because denim I ware does not last more than 3-4 month ! But I still wear it, because I love it, but I will not ware it with that ugly-me-too label on it !

This is fee suggestion as from customer as from branding specialist !

October 8, 2010 04:14 AM #

Chrisrg Spain says:

The new logo is just like the product, bland and uninspiring, they should merge with Next to keep all the blandness together.

October 8, 2010 04:35 AM #

]@/\/\!3 United States says:

As someone who works with fonts every day for my job, I can honestly say that I would NEVER use Helvetica for a logo.
We use it for boring stuff, like phone numbers and addresses on business cards and legal forms, simply because of it's legibility when printed in multiple sizes.

GAP's use of the font makes me think of the recent re-branding that Walmart is using for many, if not all of their Sam's Choice items (which I also find appalling).

If they wanted to draw attention to themselves, why not just change the blue box to bright pink.

October 8, 2010 11:00 AM #

Peggy .B Belgium says:

Le nouveaux logo de GAP est vraiment RIDICULUS   meme plus, NE JAMAIS UTILISER CE NOUVEAUX LOGO TRES MOCHE.   si ce pour attirer l'attentions des acheteur, ce completement absurde et raté!


October 8, 2010 11:51 AM #

Sharon United States says:

A monstrosity?  Really, Abe?  You appear a little dramatic.  Maybe a monstrosity is the homeless, or poor writers who some how landed a job.

October 8, 2010 11:58 AM #

Barbara.T United States says:

I can't believe there's so much talk about this logo. Who cares what the heck the logo looks like if the products are the same. If you like the GAP clothing, will you not buy it because of a logo.

People...get a life. Worry about things that are important, like jobs, child abuse, education. If you want to comment, do it for something important.

October 8, 2010 02:57 PM #

Tracy Levitz United States says:

Did iVillage buy out BrandChannel and the rest of us miss the press release?

Let's get a drink!

October 8, 2010 04:57 PM #

gap Japan says:

GAP is a very good  logo for me !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

October 8, 2010 03:53 PM #

christina sleeper United States says:

there is NO SUCH THING AS BAD PUBLICITY...players, play and get all of us to play along. of course, i agree that this new logo is uninspired, perhaps the subtext is something we could all learn from----give em something to talk about while we fix the rest...i know this is where i am with my brand redevelopment...

October 8, 2010 05:49 PM #

A Sauer United States says:

Well, I think BP would disagree with all publicity being good publicity, but you're on to something with the getting us all "to play along." A lot of the people snarking on the branding disaster have never and probably will never shop at the Gap anyway. While their opinion matters in the larger picture, Gap has a real chance to engage its actual consumers and, while pretending to fix the logo, fix the brand.

October 8, 2010 06:50 PM #

I Observer United States says:

I blame Dwell, they've done such a good job with selling Helvetica and rehashing tired overworked cliches as new, cool and original.  I'm guessing GAP thought it would work for them too!

October 9, 2010 04:43 PM #

pdf United States says:

i wanna meet the people who sold them this sorry excuse for a logo. wow. and this is supposed to be more modern than the previous logo????

October 10, 2010 01:00 AM #

Marcus Silva Brazil says:


October 10, 2010 02:15 AM #

jo Malaysia says:

don't really like the choice of the typeface. it's too boring. we can see that everywhere on street. back to the old logo pls.

October 10, 2010 03:52 AM #

Sarah says:

i don't like the new logo.. it's wearisome.

October 10, 2010 04:09 AM #

Brian Monger Australia says:

The new logo is OK.  I don't know why they would change the old one really - but at least they (hpoefully) really only spent a few bucks doing it.

So many companies spend big bucks on physical reimaging - when there was no need - and then have to explain what the new logo means/represents.  

If the thing does it main job - its recognisable who it is;  can be identified at a distance for signage;  Can be read in tiny print;  can be done in black and white - I say who cares (especially customers) what the arty designers and would be designers think?

Brian Monger

October 10, 2010 06:42 PM #

Jean Saghaard Brazil says:

I think that build up your marketing/branding with the crowd is right, in fact does not matter if one company takes it in account or not, the crowd is making your brand spontaneously through social media content and interaction. Nevertheless the tricky is – how to work along with the crowd?

It might be unwise to start this conversation with such a huge step, aks for a new logo without giving much elements or sharing its strategy. More on:


October 11, 2010 12:20 PM #

Brian Monger Australia says:

To add a bit more to the pot and stir a bit..

Design is subjective and fashion following.  

There are useful guides to what a logo should do.  Logos are not meant primarily to inspire designers or win design awards - really.

I always love reading the comments of designers and would be designers when something new comes along.

Just love comments like "boring" "wearisome" "bland and uninspiring"  "I want to know whom to mock"


October 11, 2010 06:36 PM #

jacob United States says:

why didn't they just do the uber "cool thing" and go retro with their old logo?  everyone else does it-even football with the throw back jersey.  They definitely need a change but everyone is acting like the blue and white logo is so great.  really????  I have always thought it boring and cookie cutter.  so the new logo is boring too....what better marketing campaign than to let people tell them so and do a contest on facebook to prove otherwise?!  I believe this has worked!  look at how much conversation has already taken place and how many people have already submitted their "better" ideas.  I am sure everyone at Gap is having a great laugh about it and watching the mostly FREE ideas roll in.

October 13, 2010 04:44 AM #

Comments are closed

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