The new Gap logo. A calculated move? Or just off target?

The new Gap logo. A calculated move? Or just off target?

There’s a whole lot of controversy going on in the design community from the latest Gap logo redesign. But, why?

Is it because of its familiarity? It is their strong brand presence? Is it the twenty-somethings screaming the loudest? It IS the only Gap logo they’ve ever known. Don’t companies have the right to evolve or change? Are they just simply off-target?

I myself have a fond connection to the previous logo that launched in the early 90’s. It’s distinctive typeface and blue square is something I recognize and respect. Nice, fashionable clothing that’s just at the right ‘casual level’ for me. I’ve shopped there for years. But, as a designer, I understand the reason to reinvent a brand, or revisit your roots. You know, what got you here.

So Gap, after what seemed like a rather stealth rebranding launch, with absolutely no fanfare, squeaks out the new look. Slowly on the website, and then appearing on various blogs. It does appear odd that a company of such success and stature would go that route. Even D-list movies work up more PR than this deal. Then, it spread like wildfire throughout the web and blogosphere.

All of this discussion and scrutiny over this new logo has me wondering. Was this a calculated marketing move or was it a misstep on the part of their design firm? With the major disruption and cost of a rebranding of such a major company, I would think that anyone in their right mind would never plan this as a marketing stunt.

Then, there’s the latest development on their Facebook page – crowdsourcing the logo. What a BRILLIANT idea (insert sarcasm here)! This particular wrinkle almost solidifies my hunch that all the focus groups, research and design development you can put towards a project like this, can still be wrong. Let’s have the average Joe design the logo! I’m sure some marketing genius in this week’s meetings came up with that one. After that debacle is over, management will really be wondering what to do.

And even if they do select a winner, how much will they pay them? A scant $500.00? Or a lifetime supply of cargo pants? Only for that lucky soul to suffer the ire of the entire design community, which also happens to be a part of their stylish demographic. Certainly not a win-win.

Just think, though. If YOU were the lucky winner of the money and the pants and the only one to get paid for your efforts, do you really want to subject yourself to the even more vicious discussion and scrutiny that a ‘contest’ such as this would bring? If you were a designer, you would be a sell-out to your peers. If you were an aspiring designer, the criticism and catty-talk would probably swear you off a career in design altogether. It’s two parts web celebrity, mixed with one-part reality show contestant and one part design leper. Not a very happy mix in the end.

It’s really too bad the way everything ends up in a mob-mentality situation these days. We’ve got such raw nerves about nearly everything that we care about and many we really don’t. The perceived anonymity of blog comments and Twitter gives many a certainly bold and brash avenue to vent their obvious frustration and opinions. It’s the social media version of a gang tackle.

I guess in my opinion, Gap should either stay the course with this logo and do a full rollout with their guns blazing or go back to the drawing board. The alluring draw of having your ‘public’ take a stab at designing your logo will only just cloud the water. It seems to me that this ‘publicity’ will only end in a muddled up heap of committeeness, with nothing good to show for it.

Have a backbone. You created a great brand once and you can do it again. Without a 350,000th opinion.

Update 10.12.10

Apparently, the social media public has spoken and Gap has listened. After a barrage of comments, parodies and blog articles (not unlike this one), the marketing staff for Gap corporate has decided to revert back to the previous logo design and halt their crowdsourcing logo ‘contest’. And, it has finally formally announced that it did, in fact, make an ill-conceived transition to the new mark and did not consider their existing audience in the process.


We’ve learned a lot in this process. And we are clear that we did not go about this in the right way.



Really? I’m just glad to see that the design community’s efforts to voice their opinion on using crowdsourcing were actually heard, and that a major corporation was steered away. Unfortunately, the over 4,600 concepts that were created for consideration will be scrapped – not to mention the hundreds of others that were done privately. And nobody got paid.

It’s like a great big logo pump fake.

That’s my opinion, what do you think? I’d like to hear your comments.