After 20 years, Gap decided to update its iconic white-on-blue logo. The new logo, which Gap president Marka Hansen describes as “…more contemporary and current” lasted about a week. The change, which fortunately had not yet been rolled out to Gap’s 3076 stores, makes for a costly and embarrassing turnabout for the brand.
Gap approached their logo redesign in the ordinary way that companies do. It’s a quiet, behind the scene process that ends with the big reveal, presumably to be followed closely by a big advertising push. Gap revealed its new logo on its website. The backlash of consumer discontent through social media channels was swift and furious.
We often talk about how the new world of social networking takes away a measure of a brand’s control. Your brand has always been what consumers perceive it to be, but now they can talk to one another and share their brand perceptions en masse. In Gap’s case, consumers shared thousands of comments on Gap’s Facebook page and on Twitter. One fan even created a Gap Logo twitter account, sharing the supposed thoughts of the logo while another built a “create your own crap logo” tool.
So what was the miscalculation?
Consumers were very invested in the Gap brand. They felt ownership of the brand and what that logo represents. It didn’t really matter what the logo was changed to, they didn’t see it as out of sync with the Gap brand.
Gap’s leadership quickly picked up on the negativity around the change and seemed to recognize that they’d taken away something important to their customers. In their defense, they attempted to engage their fans and crowdsource a new logo design, but the effort was clumsy, poorly executed and mistimed as an effort to salvage a bad situation.
Crowdsourcing is a social engagement strategy in which fans and consumers are challenged to compete to provide the best answer to a problem. It could be the design of an automobile, tee shirt concepts or logo.
Consumers could have been engaged for crowdsourcing. It seems that thousands would have happily shared their vision for what represents the Gap brand. It feels as though many were insulted that they weren’t asked for their input. Perhaps crowdsourcing is no longer a curiosity but rather an expectation of engaged consumers. Think about that for a moment – have we entered an age where you need to ask your customers for permission to change something as significant as a logo?
Or are logos only the most superficial of brand artifacts? Maybe Gap should have just left their logo alone in the first place.