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The Branding GAP

Stephen Schmidt | October 18, 2010 | Branding, Corporate, Design, Graphic design

The Gap logo debacle has been widely written about. Here’s my two cents…

First, regarding the redesigned logo, Gap suffered from a lack of vision by its designers and a lack of ambition by its marketing group. On its own, the logo is not dynamic. In a beginning graphic design class, it would receive perhaps a C+ at best. That said, the logo did represent a shift in approach toward a more contemporary brand identity away from a durable, but dated logomark more in tune with 90’s era corporate retail branding. The redesigned logo was a better fit on the new Gap website than the former Gap logo. Due mainly to customer backlash, via Facebook and Twitter, the former logo has been placed onto a new Gap website where it never belonged, and it looks that way. This is what Gap is stuck with, in the interim, while they scratch their heads figuring out the next move.

Why would Gap blow it this badly? Are they another victim of a media savvy society that can now forcefully and instantly express opinions on a range of issues—from politics to celebrity fashion to, um, corporate brand identity?

First off, Gap made the mistake of not investing their customers in the rebranding effort. Apparently, the new logo just showed up one day without warning. Gap had an opportunity to transmit a strong brand identity story to its customers—how they are evolving their product line and image to a twenty first century agenda. Instead, as a corporate face-saving afterthought, Gap chose to open up the discussion of their new logo to customers and anyone with an opinion in a “crowd sourcing” project to hastily determine a more acceptable branding approach. On their Facebook page, Gap even asked for new logo ideas to be submitted by the public. Note to Gap—dismiss, posthaste, the execs who championed that idea.

Now Gap is back to their previous logo, their branding is in a schizophrenic limbo, and their credibility is damaged. They got to this place from misguided creative leadership that allowed a bland new logo to see the light of day, and weak corporate leadership that didn’t stick by their original decision to rebrand Gap.

Not all is lost. Gap’s new website design is good. Their clothing line and stores look contemporary and well designed. Now, if they could just get rid of that old logo…

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