Friday, October 15, 2010

What's The Big Deal About The GAP Logo?

Long before I was a recruiter, I was an account guy.  In many ways I still am one.  So this post is about me wearing my advertising hat.

I was away for much of last week and came back to the tempest in a teapot regarding the GAP logo.  I have read many of the tweets, Facebook comments, the trade press and blog posts. As an advertising person, I don't want to comment one way or the other about the pros or cons about their new logo.  Suffice to say that I am sure they had good reason to want to update it which most of us advertising people can guess at but not know for sure.


I am delighted to know that GAP has achieved the status of icon brand - consumers wouldn't get this excited about just an ordinary brand.  They clearly have a vested interest in the success or failure of the stores and products.  That in and of itself is quite an achievement.  So the fact that the redesign of the logo has generated its own buzz is not surprising.  But, as we all know, designers can and will argue endlessly about the pros and cons of one design versus another. And we also all know that consumers will have their own opinions.  Certainly, if the logo was allowed to stay, it would would become familiar to everyone and we would all get used to it.

Which brings me to the point.  What I do not understand is why the GAP would be swayed by the blogosphere. Surely, they know more about their business and their needs than the ardent bloggers, who mean well.  Truth is, I believe it is no one's business, don't you?  As I said, it is wonderful that people are passionate about the brand.  But do people have a right to dictate how a company is run and how it presents itself to the consumer?

Has marketing in this country been so taken over by public opinion that the experts - those at the companies who know their own needs best - must give way to public opinion?  We all know that consumers cannot tell you what will be, only what is.  In one of my previous postings, someone commented directly to me about Henry Ford's wonderful quote, "If you asked people what they wanted, they would have told you faster horses."

Bloggers certainly have a right to express their opinions.  A pro and con debate is healthy and may be good for GAP's business (I will bet store visits and sales have gone up this week).  We all know that focus groups are misused and often misinterpreted.  It is certainly fair for concepts, ideas and even new logo designs to be focus grouped, as I am sure the proposed new GAP logo was.  But for goodness sake, for a corporation to be so intimidated by bloggers over the design of their logo is absurd.

People have likened this situation to the recent Tropicana package redesign debacle.  But, in my opinion, that redesign failed because it made the brand look like generic OJ.  Some also likened it to New Coke, but that was a change in the taste of a well established product.  This is completely different. This isn't life or death or even high fructose corn syrup. It is just a logo.

I would like to hear your thoughts.


  1. My thought is that in reality it was likely simply a PR stunt to get their name into the front of people's minds before the holiday shopping season started.

    I even said that they would go back to the original logo saying it's what the people wanted. If they really had seriously intended to change their logo a bunch of people saying they didn't like it probably wouldn't have swayed their minds so quickly.

  2. Alena, I had the same suspicions. It felt like a stunt - almost like they picked a bad song on purpose to throw the competition... ;-)

  3. I remember in the 70s ad business that one letter from a consumer had more impact on the brand group than multiple presentations and recommendations from the account group.

    Not much has really changed except the delivery of the consumer message to the company. Now more people can complain more quickly. And, the commitment of those at the top is as weak as ever. Where have all of the strong clients gone when there a bold decisions to be made? The same place they have always gone...under the desk.

  4. The publicity stunt angle wouldn't surprise me, but do you think too that the stories of how consumers have used social media platforms to besmirch companies and/or their products has made other companies less confident and more apt to cave at minor or perceived backlashes?

    (BTW, thanks for the HFCS link to Odd Dad)

  5. I think it's funny how attached people are to brand logos and things. They so identify with the brand that they don't want anything about it to change. I would have thought that would come up in focus groups like you mention.

  6. Companies don't own brands anymore. Consumers now own brands. As brands open their doors to social media, two-way communication and crowd sourcing, they relinquish control, and thereby ownership. No going back now.


I would welcome your comments, suggestions or anything you would like to share with me or my readers.

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