logo no-no

Gap Scraps New Logo

Posted by Shirley Brady on October 11, 2010 10:00 PM

Responding to the immediate public outcry on Facebook and Twitter after its new logo was quietly introduced on its website last week, Gap Inc. has announced on its Facebook page that it's scrapping the new logo and keeping its classic navy blue box version (with its traditional red version for its seasonal Holiday marketing) ... for the time being.

Although its website tonight still shows the old logo, Gap president Marka Hansen assured fans the new logo has been thrown out, and was an ill-conceived rollout (despite the creativity it unleashed, including two impromptu Gap logo contests, and a trio of tongue-in-cheek Twitter feeds in @gaplogo, @oldgaplogo and @newgaplogo).

Hansen's statement expressed regret at the anger the rebranded logo elicited in loyalists and design critics (pro or amateur), in what rapidly turned into one of the biggest marketing-triggered outcries in recent history.

"We’ve learned a lot in this process," Hansen stated. "And we are clear that we did not go about this in the right way. We recognize that we missed the opportunity to engage with the online community. This wasn’t the right project at the right time for crowd sourcing. There may be a time to evolve our logo, but if and when that time comes, we’ll handle it in a different way."

Translation: You can bet Gap Inc. has retained a new social media agency to manage the Gap brand's expectations, undo any damage and steer the process going forward.

While it's still hard to believe the brand's owners really intended this as a crowdsourcing effort in the first place, it will be interesting to see how the fashion retailer eventually, inevitably, changes its logo — which it clearly feels must be modernized in this app-driven digital world — when it makes another run at updating the mark.

Hansen's statement tonight, which follows on her outreach to incensed consumers via the Huffington Post, acknowledges that at least customers cared enough to fight for 'their' vision of the Gap brand, remarking on "just how much energy there is around our brand." In fact, the fracas put Gap back in the news and forced people to re-engage with the brand, and likely didn't lose it any customers.

Her full statement:

"Since we rolled out an updated version of our logo last week on our website, we’ve seen an outpouring of comments from customers and the online community in support of the iconic blue box logo.

“Last week, we moved to address the feedback and began exploring how we could tap into all of the passion. Ultimately, we’ve learned just how much energy there is around our brand. All roads were leading us back to the blue box, so we’ve made the decision not to use the new logo on gap.com any further.

“At Gap brand, our customers have always come first. We’ve been listening to and watching all of the comments this past week. We heard them say over and over again they are passionate about our blue box logo, and they want it back. So we’ve made the decision to do just that – we will bring it back across all channels.

“In the meantime, the website will go back to our iconic blue box logo and, for Holiday, we’ll turn our blue box red for our seasonal campaign.

“We’ve learned a lot in this process. And we are clear that we did not go about this in the right way. We recognize that we missed the opportunity to engage with the online community.  This wasn’t the right project at the right time for crowd sourcing.

“There may be a time to evolve our logo, but if and when that time comes, we’ll handle it in a different way."

Feel free to post your thoughts below, or join our debate on the subject.

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Bernadette Jiwa Australia says:

Thanks for posting updates Shirely.

This is not unexpected.
There are lessons to be learned from Gap's mistakes for all businesses. The customer disquiet goes far beyond the failed logo redesign.
Where to for Gap from here?
Something to think about....


October 12, 2010 03:01 AM #

Leban Hyde United States says:

I feel strangely relieved that the Gap is returning to it's old logo. From a professional perspective, I feel that it is the correct decision to make. From a personal one, I feel I shouldn't care either way. But I do. And I'm not even a loyal customer.

The reactions to the logo change speaks greatly about how our daily brands are embedded in our culture. We've all learned from the Gap's decision on this one.

October 12, 2010 05:24 AM #

Dariusz Poland says:

its always tempting for marketing professionals to play with established logos, packagings and other product/brand 's IDs.From the consumer prospective it is another message (or plernty of: shapes, colors, font cuts ... ) out of the hundreds received every day . Major changes are often irritating, the lower ones not noticed. One has to have a strong rationale to do so otherwise it's just a waste of money.
GAP was the case.

October 12, 2010 06:30 AM #

drkkr India says:

Brands are what customers say. Consumers can  make or break a brand. Word of mouth  has become the most powerful medium, it is time corporates understand the passion and perception the consumers have towards  the Brand. I blogged about this Brand Blunder few days back.Check this   http://brandthinkmarketingdo.com/?p=1555

October 12, 2010 06:31 AM #

Rubba United States says:

I can't help to think it was all part of a plan. By putting out something (the new logo) so unattractive that it was sure to raise criticism. And it worked. EVERYBODY is talking about Gap

October 12, 2010 06:58 AM #

Karen Mexico says:

yeah I think the same way Tong ahaha!
this is a great strategy.

October 12, 2010 01:35 PM #

Jeff United States says:

This is a horrid strategy (if it is indeed a strategy). If it ever got out that it was indeed their strategy, they will lose mountains of customers over night. Currently right now, Gap has dodged a bullet. They have received an emotional outcry but what are they going to do with it now? Continue to be the same boring brand it has been since their khaki strategy? They are losing customers daily to Target. Opening the corporate door to have people submit a logo for their company is the worst idea for any company to consider for way too many reasons to list. It's irresponsible on so many levels because it's such a subjective and important part to your business, not to mention complicated.

Gap has the spotlight, but if they don't do something spectacular to ride this wave, SOON, this could backfire considerably. People aren't cheering in the streets because their solution was so lukewarm that it made people pissed. The new solution was horrid and designed by committee. That's why people were upset.

October 12, 2010 04:35 PM #

L John Yarusi United States says:

Why do I love this story - cause it stirred so much debate about something we all believe - BRAND REALLY MATTERS...

I think the only important lesson here... They (GAP) listened and acted... I say Tres'bien to them...

And as we all know - thats not easily done - admitting you made a mistake (publicly no-less)...

The Gap's damage control 'spin' was a bit weak but they came full-circle in the end...

Yet another sign how social media is transforming how we behave...  On both sides of the brand ball ( :


October 12, 2010 07:07 AM #

Michelle Taglialatela United States says:

this is what happens when you don't have a brand strategy. it's a free-for-all of subjectivity. slap a little crowd sourcing on top of it and you have a complete recipe for disaster.

October 12, 2010 10:14 AM #

L John Yarusi United States says:

I could agree more... Best line I've heard lately regarding "strategy"...  And it's one to remember -

"Strategy is simple in principal, but very difficult in practice"...  

Gap may have had a strategy in play (at least lets hope so for the sake of our whole industry)... But sadly they failed in practice, i.e. Execution...



October 12, 2010 10:27 AM #

Bernadette Jiwa Australia says:

Couldn't agree with you more Shirely.

I thought I might help them make a start.


October 12, 2010 10:28 AM #

Bernadette Jiwa Australia says:

Sorry here's the correct link http://www.facebook.com/gap#!/group.php?gid=164185380274886

October 12, 2010 10:29 AM #

1day1brand Canada says:

I think this was a wise decision for GAP.

They did the most important thing a company can do - listened to their customer.

Andrew F Stewart



October 12, 2010 11:40 AM #

Warren Welter Canada says:

No Gap in Time MAY 10, 2006

Harry Murphy – rise up again!

Are you too young to remember when there was a Generation Gap? That was way back in the 60s. My old friend Harry Murphy designed the store and graphic identity creating one of the early brands – and rocking the retail business – with his friend Don Fisher who wanted to open a store for inexpensive every day clothes in San Francisco. They had a pact: Don would teach Harry everything he knew about retail and Harry would teach Don all about graphic design. Such a deal!

And that brand identity has morphed and evolved and I wonder if Harry (aka Mr. Helvetica) or Don would have agreed with the changes including its expansion.

Harry, who died a few years ago left behind a legacy of legibility, critical thinking and clean design. Don Fisher is long gone too.

This billboard shown here is from the current ad campaign for Gap as seen on Houston Street, Manhattan, this week on my way to work, shows that they live on. I’m sure you’ve seen it in the magazines you read, on the street where you live: Gap is everywhere. It’s using the original brand that Harry created.

And so back to Harry.

My favorite story about Harry Murphy was about the present Harry made to the man who cleaned his office – a man who he considered a close friend. He designed a (Helvetica, of course) invoice in black and white and took it to a quick copy shop. When he got the box back he took out the top sheet, crumpled it up and smoothed it out, putting it back in the box.

What a concept! And it’s an idea that’s as fresh and good today as it was back in 1960s when Harry presented it to his friend. I remember how I marveled at the simplicity – the rightness of the idea – when Harry told me (a pigtailed young designer) sitting in this Mill Valley studio.

Maybe that’s why the designers at Gap (who weren’t even conceived when Harry was hard at work developing The Gap concept) have been able to bring him back to us.

He still speaks to us almost 50 years later: fresh, new, clean.

Who knew?

October 12, 2010 12:43 PM #

Karen Mexico says:

Well, I do like the old logo!
is classy and that navy-style is kinda cool nowadays so I believe is a great decision to keep it Smile

October 12, 2010 01:30 PM #

Tom Parrett United States says:

Two things. It's probably a mistake to attribute the outpouring of criticism to GAP brand "passion." Many people just plain recognized that the change was idiotic, and we humans love to glory in dumb moves. However I do think that the outpouring indicates we have become quite sensitive and attentive to the power of brands. They are intellectually engaging, way beyond their ability to stir emotions. Sorry, GAP, this wasn't all about you.

Burt basically, the existing GAP logo could use updating. It's just that the folks doing the logo work forgot a couple of fundamental goals for the brand: A logo that looks great big on a T-shirt or the sweat pants bottom, and a logo that's a fashion statement itself. Therefore it must be a little edgy, with attitude--not corporate as was rendered.

I do think that if type lost the serif it would look much fresher.

October 16, 2010 09:56 AM #

cassalee United States says:

I can't help but see this as an attempt to drum up attention for a brand that's not doing so well. Why?  Because these days, there are countless real designers, unemployed designers, underemployed designers, "would-be" untrained but talented designers willing and able to re-design a much, much better logo, for free.  Would look pretty sweet on a resume, wouldn't it?  There are a ton of 'gratis' flyers, posters, websites, blogs! that look great out there, and if it was truly crowd-sourced, I'm sure there were much better options to choose from--they would only choose this to stir up controversy. Half of this week's "Top Ten' is about Gap, so I guess it's worked.  I'm hoping you might be ready to drop this story now, so we can read about more worthwhile happenings in the branding world. Thanks!

October 18, 2010 12:42 PM #

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