Gap recently suffered a major social media backlash after launching their redesigned logo.
The old logo is both familiar and iconic, seen on high streets and at shopping centres around the world. And with their previous logo having been used for twenty years, there was always going to be a lot of scrutiny given to any rebranding effort.
But Gap could hardly have predicted the outcry that would follow. News articles were written, Facebook pages were set up, Twitter and the blogosphere went nuts. Many commentators went as far as to suggest that the rebranding was intentionally bad, designed to whip up publicity.
Indeed, at first glance, the new logo appears to lack imagination. Use of the Helvetica font could be judged to lack imagination, and the blue square could be deemed to be too simplistic, leading to an overall impression of cheapness.
I was one of the many who decried the logo, but looking back, I think my initial feelings were unjustified. It’s easy to take a logo on its own, out of context, and pull it to pieces. I wonder how many of the commentators considered how it would look within Gap’s other marketing materials. For example, Gap have used Helvetica for their in-store marketing for years, and with that in mind, it makes much more sense to tie the branding together with a common font.
In addition, criticising the logo without having an understanding of what the client was looking to achieve is moot; no-one has looked at design brief, or followed the process that was used to create the new mark.
We in the marketing industry are quick to defend ourselves when news articles appear criticising the cost of branding exercises, but blithely criticising a logo taken out of context seems to devalue the design process just as much, in my eyes.
Looking back, my initial reaction was hasty and unjustified, and I feel many others were too.
Gap responded to the outrage by inviting designers to submit re-worked logos, but this again was met with derision amongst the design community. They quickly canned the idea, and Marka Hansen, president of Gap North America said:
“[We] missed the opportunity to engage with the online community. There may be a time to evolve our logo, but if and when that time comes, we’ll handle it in a different way”
It is encouraging to see a huge brand like Gap take social media seriously and learn from its mistakes, and the incident demonstrates once more that brands must do this to thrive in the digital age.