Gap old logo
A big brouhaha developed this week about the new Gap logo. For over 20 years the retail chain that gained fame for its jeans had a logo that was pretty simple – a blue square enclosing GAP in reverse Helvetica font. But, oh boy, did the company get criticized for its new “hip” logo aimed at the millennial crowd.
Customers weighed in on Gap’s Facebook page with comments like, “Looks cheap! Does that mean your jeans will be cheap too?” “What people gave you such terrible advice?” and “This new ‘logo’ is terrible and amateurish.” Ouch!
Why do companies tinker with what’s working? Fast Company weighed in with a story, Gap on Disastrous New Logo: “We’re Open to Other Ideas” in which Bill Chandler, vice president of corporate communications for Gap, told FC, “We love the design, but we’re open to other ideas and we want to move forward with the best logo possible.” Sounds like backtracking to me.
GAP Turns to Crowdsourcing
GAP North America president, Marka Hansen, quickly dashed off a byliner in that arbiter of good taste, the Huffington Post, in which she states, “We chose this design as it’s more contemporary and current…now, given the passionate outpouring from customers that followed, we’ve decided to engage in the dialogue, take their feedback on board and work together as we move ahead and evolve to the next phase of Gap.”
Tossing aside the logo designed by a professional, the company is turning to “crowdsourcing.” That’s when you tap into the ideas of the masses. Very often it’s tied in to a contest. Just think, a logo designed by committee – a very, very large committee. Individuals will be able to submit in their own designs in a contest hastily conceived by the company as damage control.
So, if the brightest minds in the design business couldn’t come up with an acceptable logo, why does the company think their customers (some of whom might actually have design experience) can do any better without the research and thought that no doubt went into the new design?
Advertisers and Agencies Get Bored
I come from an advertising/PR background. You know the reason why companies change logos and advertising campaigns that are working just fine? They get bored. It’s true. I worked in agencies and agencies worked for me when I was head of marketing communications at a number of major companies.
One day a “creative,” the inside term for copywriters and art directors, says to the account director of Very Big Client. “You know, that campaign is getting a little tired. We’ve been kicking around some ideas for a new creative approach that we’d like to show the client.” Before you know it, the ball is rolling down the hill and no one can stop it.
Or, the client’s advertising director is in a meeting and the company’s president says, “How long have we been running this campaign? Aren’t people getting tired of it?” That’s like shooting the starter’s gun at a race. Off the ad director goes to the agency: “How come you guys aren’t coming up with any new ideas?” Boom, everybody is scurrying around – don’t want to lose the account — and competing creative teams are assembled to come up with new designs and copy.
American Express: “Don’t Leave Home Without It”
In one of the longest-running and most successful advertising campaigns in history, the actor Karl Malden was the pitchman for American Express for 25 years, ending each commercial with American Express: Don’t Leave Home Without It. This helped to build Amex’s reputation and brand as the premium card for travel and leisure. After Malden’s departure, rotating celebrity spokespersons kept the campaign fresh for years.
There are other campaigns, too, that ran forever and no one got bored and the cash register kept ringing. Among them were You’re In Good Hands With Allstate, Avis: We Try Harder, and Please Don’t Squeeze the Charmin. I mention the last campaign because the fictional spokesman, George Whipple, was named for a real person who was the PR director for the company’s ad agency (I knew him).
My Advice for Gap
So getting back to Gap’s logo snafu. I’d advise the company to slow down. If you’re going to have a crowdsourcing contest, think it through carefully and understand the ramifications of opening up the corral and letting all the cattle in. Don’t let the brand get trampled on.