Now you see it, now you don’t

Humans, naturally, dislike change. Our behaviour can sometimes be child-like when things get changed without our knowledge or input. We get angry, upset, stressed and vocal.

Gap definitely felt that when they decided to rebrand their image in early October. After one week, the new logo was changed back to the old one because of complaints by loyal customers.

So who is to blame for this mistake?

Is it the company who needed a change because of slow sales and wanted to reveal a fresher Gap for the holiday season? They definitely could have done without the fast execution of the logo change.

Or brand loyalists who don’t do well with change? They voiced their opinions everywhere on the web from blogs, social networking sites, YouTube videos..etc.

Or Laird & Partners who are responsible for creating the lazy new logo? They could have done better research as to what the consumers want and how attached they are to the brand.

But when everything was going wrong, Gap digged themselves deeper into their hole. They posted on their Facebook wall 2 days after the launch of the new logo “Stay tuned for details in the next few days on this crowdsourcing project”. By saying ‘crowd-sourcing project’, people began to backlash even more as they saw it as a way to get free logo designs.  By October 11, it was pretty clear that Gap had only one way out. On october 11th, they returned to their old logo, saying on their Facebook page “Ok. We’ve heard loud and clear that you don’t like the new logo. …We’re bringing back the Blue Box tonight.”

What was interesting about this case was that the angry mob online changed the company’s direction completely. Is social media the new voice? Or the gathering of many voices into one overwhelming key message that can influence a company so quickly. Companies are soon going to realize that consumers on social media websites have the companies reputations in a tight grip.

Over at, they’ve summarized this attempt at re-branding into 4 key lessons:

1. Twitter can be a powerful force
“Here’s one in the eye for Malcolm Gladwell,” says Shane Richmond in the Telegraph. Though The New Yorker cultural analyst recently questioned Twitter’s power to effect change, it’s clear the social network played a key role in this branding reversal. As Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic notes, soon after the new logo’s unveiling, some wag created a parody twitter account, @GapLogo, to tweet in the injured “voice” of the maligned logo, and quickly gained “thousands of followers.”

2. Don’t underestimate consumers’ grasp of graphic design
“The 21st Century has really stripped the mystery from design and advertising,” says Jim Edwards at BNET.  “Most consumers have better software on their laptops today than professional designers had on their desktops 20 years ago.” Thanks to this increased design sophistication, it’s harder to pass off “lame work” like the new Gap logo.

3. Rebranding has to be more than just skin-deep
For a rebranding effort to work, the product itself, not just the logo on it, has to be altered. “The product positioning has to change first, then the logo should be the last thing,” says marketing expert Craig Smith, as quoted in BBC News Magazine. Marketers often think, wrongly, that they can create a “shortcut” for a brand’s evolution simply by “changing the visual identity.” But that’s just not how it works.

4. Inadvertently, however, Gap may have increased brand loyalty
Sure, “Gap could have stuck to its guns… it’s just a logo, people!” But these days, all companies “are running scared of [their] customers,” says Andy Beal in Forbes. The upside: By conceding the battle, Gap “gave the customers back their beloved logo. In turn, said customers will take a larger emotional stake in the Gap brand. It’s now even more their Gap, than it was before.”

With all this attention towards Gap and now that customers have a ‘larger emotional stake’ with it, this could be good news for Gap. Perhaps that was their plan all along. And if not, at least it wasn’t a pricey mistake, unlike PepsiCo’s 2009 rebrand of Tropicana.

For more info:

Throughout the whole uproar, people found humor with the new logo:


About sunnyvisa

I'm a student at Ottawa U, studying in Communications. I was born in Quebec City to a French Canadian and Italian family. I lived 9 years in the Netherlands and then moved to Ottawa. I love to travel, spend time with my family, and have fun with friends. You can always see me with a smile on my face :)
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