Much Ado About Gap’s New Logo

Oct 08, 2010
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Okay, it may not be the same uproar that accompanied new
Coke or even the rebranding of Tropicana, but there are people clearly unhappy
with The Gap’s new logo.

New logo, you ask? Yes, this week the retailer quietly
added a new logo with upper and lower case letters and a gradiated blue box
to the top right of the "p" in
Gap to replace the iconic original that included all caps in white against
a solid blue box.

According to Advertising Age, negative posts are expanding
across the internet. A satirical Twitter account has popped up and the negative
Tweets are flying fast and furious. One poster tweeted, "I made the new
Gap logo. Y’know…five minutes, basic Word font, random blue square for a
nice finishing touch…" Another
reads, "Why are you picking on me? Have you (expletive)ers seen that new
iTunes 10 icon?"

While there are plenty of negative reactions, there are
positive ones, also. Brian Sozzi, an analyst with Wall Street Securities, wrote
in a research note, "Gap
brand’s logo change is a bold move by management, no doubt about it. 
But, it’s something that is necessary to align management’s vision
(to promote a cooler brand) with store presentation (signage, marketing, merchandise)."

Hansen, president, Gap North America, explained the logo change in a piece
on the Huffington Post, calling it part of the brand’s evolution
in recent years that has included the 1969 premium denim line, new black pants,
and remodeling to modernize stores. "Our brand and our clothes are changing
and rethinking our logo is part of aligning with that," Ms. Hansen wrote.

put the logo out there for comment, Gap appears to have changed course (whether
planned or not is open to debate) and now says it is part of a crowdsourcing
project. A post on the company’s Facebook page reads, "We’ve had
the same logo for 20+ years, and this is just one of the things we’re
changing. We know this logo created a lot of buzz and we’re thrilled
to see passionate debates unfolding! So much so we’re asking you to share
your designs. We love our version, but we’d like to… see other ideas.
Stay tuned for details in the next few days on this crowd sourcing project."

Discussion Question: What do you make of Gap’s new logo and its response
to the criticism surrounding it?

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16 Comments on "Much Ado About Gap’s New Logo"

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Max Goldberg
10 years 7 months ago

So Gap creates a new logo, releases it in a few places, draws significant flack, claims that it is a work in progress and invites consumers to submit their own logo designs. In the process they garner millions of dollars in free PR and make people think about Gap. What can be wrong with that?

Liz Crawford
10 years 7 months ago

The Gap Logo probably needed to be modernized…and a crowd-sourcing project is au courant, if nothing else. But it seems to me that continuity of the brand’s equity would be better achieved through a sharp design house and traditional consumer testing. Call me old fashioned.

Ryan Mathews
10 years 7 months ago

It makes no sense. It isn’t a dramatic improvement and it doesn’t “speak” to either Gap’s traditional or future audiences. In short, it does nothing for the brand, so we bother?

As to the “crowdsourcing” argument–let’s be serious. Somebody at Gap headquarters realized they goofed and is trying to put a hip branding Happy Face on a mediocre decision.

Paul R. Schottmiller
Paul R. Schottmiller
10 years 7 months ago

Nothing wrong with freshening up the logo along with the stores especially for a fashion brand. I am surprised the last one lasted 20 years. The only thing I find a bit peculiar is the wishy washy “send us your designs” element after they released it…if they are that sensitive to the feedback then why not go the crowd source route from the start?

Marge Laney
10 years 7 months ago

Gap blew it. The logo that they tossed was as iconic as the Nike swoosh. Some think it was an ingenious mastermind strategy to create buzz. I think it was a misguided group decision which has blurred the brands identity and confused its core customer even more. The old saying rings true here; ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ In Gap’s case, there’s plenty that needs fixing and this logo fiasco is an unfortunate distraction.

Joan Treistman
10 years 7 months ago

I agree with Liz and Marge. If they feel they want their logo to reflect a new direction GAP should go ahead and have a logo designed that does that.

However, GAP has to remember that a logo needs to function on several different levels simultaneously. A logo has to register the brand name on sight, reflect the brand’s image and reinforce existing and future strategies and distinguish the brand from the competitive landscape. The logo has to appeal to customers (never mind the part of fax well).

These are just some criteria for an effective logo. In the long run an effective logo should have an ownable look that creates recognition from a distance.

These criteria are measurable. We’re all wondering if GAP made the effort.

Jack Kurek
Jack Kurek
10 years 7 months ago

Change is always hard for some. A number of years ago (okay, decades) IBM changed its logo. Same discussions, same arguments. It’s water under the bridge. Change represents renewal, progress, and keeps the ball moving forward.

Cathy Hotka
10 years 7 months ago

Sometimes, companies need to be protected from themselves.

Ed Rosenbaum
10 years 7 months ago

Gap puts a new logo out and gets conversations going pro and con. Brilliant plan in my mind. Look at all the free pub they garnered. And now they are asking the world to partner with them to create what will become the next true logo. I wonder if the Gap Execs believe in what they did enough to have sent purchase orders to their sign manufacturers to begin mass production? I doubt it!

James Tenser
10 years 7 months ago

In the same sense that no good deed goes unpunished, no branding update ever goes un-criticized.

While I personally agree that the legacy blue square logo is iconic, there was undoubtedly some stimulus that triggered the re-design. If Gap management disclosed its reasoning, some critics might relent.

While we’re on the topic good folks at Gap (and its competitors) should be made aware that no matter what the logo looks like, I’m still ripping that @*#&-ing label off my jeans before I wear them.

Charles P. Walsh
Charles P. Walsh
10 years 7 months ago

Our panelists seem to be polarized into two camps.

1. Major Mistake.
2. Great Move.

In the short run think it is somewhere in the middle…it doesn’t really hurt and it doesn’t really help. In the long run if the product in the stores reflects the new updated image and appeals to the consumers then the new logo is reflective of a New Gap.

Consumers adapt quickly, the Coke analogy doesn’t hold water (no pun intended) as it was an issue of a change to a product. Walmart’s rebranding raised similar concerns but in the end it was a non issue.

Interestingly many companies are moving to this lower case and more casual font for their logos. Look at ATT; they are now at&t!

Phil Rubin
10 years 7 months ago
Rather than pass initial judgment on the logo which at first I didn’t like but over time, and after looking at their website again, is not so bad–at least there–it’s really interesting to see the reaction of people both on this site and others like AdAge as well as Gap’s Facebook page (which is uniformly negative and has the old logo LOL). It’s more than ironic that now crowd-sourcing is part of their strategy and it’s likewise hard to believe that this negative backlash was part of a PR strategy. If it is, then it’s just plain stupid to think that you’re smarter than customers! “Here’s a great idea: let’s put out a logo that people will hate, get a lot of PR, then turn it around through crowd sourcing.” Really? Did they test this? Was their logo keeping them from being relevant to existing customers and/or (presumably) younger prospects? Gap has a large base of relatively engaged customers. It will be interesting to see if the tens of $millions they spend rebranding will pay… Read more »
Craig Sundstrom
10 years 7 months ago

“Gap brand’s logo change is a bold move by management, no doubt about it.”

Come on, maybe a little doubt…just a teeny tiny bit? Anyway, planned or not, there’s nothing like an avalanche of free publicity over a non-event to hide the basic problem that one’s sales have been mediocre for years. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that if we traced the urls of many of these “spontaneous” outcries, they maybe actually originated from GAP–or is it “Gap’s” now?–own marketing department.

Brian Kelly
10 years 7 months ago

Let’s put the creative execution aside, should a struggling fashion business in the midst of repositioning release a new graphic identity before it has sorted out its new fashion identity?

The cart was clearly put before the horse. Lost is the opportunity to drive traffic to the stores to find out what the buzz is all about. The current assortment is one in transition and not their best foot forward.

Maybe PT Barnum was right for the circus in saying “all news is good news,” but for a retailer it is better coordinated when the balance of the selling model is built for the new, millennial target. Impetuous?

Or as we like to say, “retail ain’t for sissies.”

Ted Hurlbut
Ted Hurlbut
10 years 7 months ago

The Coke analogy doesn’t hold water (pardon the pun). Coke is an iconic brand, and while Gap is clearly a prominent brand, I don’t think it rises to the level of iconic.

Which for me means that it doesn’t transcend the generations. Frankly, the old Gap logo has been around since I was a customer. And I’m certainly no longer their target. that’s a younger generation than I’m part of. So a new logo that positions them in the second decade of the 21st century makes sense.

Now as to the actual new logo they came up with…I’ll leave that to others.

Doug Stephens
Doug Stephens
10 years 7 months ago

Failing now and then only proves you’re actually trying.

I give GAP props for recognizing the need for change and also for quickly throwing the question back to the angry mob, “So, what do YOU think our logo should be?” In doing so, they successfully spun this whole thing into what could be a cool campaign.

Everybody’s an armchair quarterback, especially when it comes to creativity. I think GAP has handled it all with grace.


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