All across the internet in press releases, news articles and blogs our Orange County Web Design firm witnessed the new Gap logo receive very unforgiving criticism only to be switched back to the original one in less than a week. Marka Hansen, who has been the president at Gap brand for the past three years, explained, “There may be a time to evolve our logo, but if and when that time comes, we’ll handle it in a different way.”
Gap attempted to deal with the criticism that labeled the new mark everything from a “cosmetic band-aid” to “monstrosity” to just plain “YUK!” by engaging in the conversation via Facebook. Now, the main question is, how and why would such an iconic clothing branding change after 41 years? Several commentators have speculated as to why the brand change came now:
Abe Sauer at Brandchannel: “It 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.”
David Brier at Fast Company: “It’s all a cosmetic band-aid which is so unbelievable for a brand as big and ‘mature’ as Gap. I’ll be surprised if a few people won’t lose their jobs as this is basic Branding 101.”
Jim Edwards at BNet: “There’s a clue to what might have triggered the misstep in the fact that same-store sales at Gap are down 4 percent…”
Lastly, Hansen herself chimed into the conversation, “The natural step for us on this journey is to see how our logo- on that we’ve had for more than 20 years – should evolve. Our brand and our clothes are changing and rethinking our logo is part of aligning with that.”
The problem is, however, that logos don’t always necessarily have to evolve as the same way a company’s product’s do. With this logo re-design it is clear that there was no substantial, concrete reason for the change to be brought about- and it shows. A logo, which is the cornerstone of a company’s entire brand identity should be engineered as an all-encompassing representation of what that company stands for; a timeless idea that should be matched with a timeless mark.
Now let’s evaluate what exactly went wrong with the design of the logo. The new logo changed its typeface to Helvetica- a look that is already strongly tied to brands such as American Apparel and thus makes the brand lose its uniqueness. Secondly, the redesign seems to have taken the iconic blue box and shifted it over to the right-hand corner of the “p” and added a gradient. Straying away from the solid navy blue of the original logo weakened the mark as a whole. Ad Age sums up the redesign, “Across the internet detractors have been picking apart the new look, with the most common sentiment being that it looks like something a child created using a clip art gallery.”
The lesson learned from this logo mishap exemplifies the expression, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” Well, now that the fiasco is finished, I’m going to buy myself a matching pair of gloves and a scarf- and maybe a plaid button up shirt just because I think they got the commercials right.