Gap is our “Social Media Winner of the Week”

In case you missed it, over the past week or so, Gap decided to change their corporate logo, then got pressured (largely via social media channels) to change it back. My initial reaction on seeing this was to assume that they planned it this way from the beginning, but I don’t have any contacts in the “Gap circle of trust” to know for sure.  Gap has been around a little longer on the earth than I have, and my cursory research didn’t reveal whether their iconic blue box logo had been around since they were founded in 1969, but I know that they’ve had the same logo at least since the 80’s, when I used to shop there during high school.

So, one of two things happened here, and I see them as mutually exclusive:

1. In a stroke of business branding genius, Gap knew that their new logo would fail miserably and cause a public outcry, at which point they could save the day by reverting back to the original, comfortable logo we’ve all known for years,  OR…

2. Gap simply messed up, but they were paying attention and responded swiftly to the unhappy consumer audience.

Frankly, it doesn’t matter which of these comprises the truth.  Either way, Gap wins.

Why is that, exactly?

Well, do you remember the last time you talked about Gap with your friends before this incident?  Or the last time Gap made headline news?  Yeah, me neither.  In fact, this could be the first time in their 41-year history that they did something worth talking about.  I applaud them for this move (and for the change back, because the new logo really did kinda stink), since they did something buzzworthy.  How often do you see large corporations making bold moves?  Every once in awhile, you might see a risque GoDaddy commercial, but, by and large, companies tend to play it safe.

The bottom line question: Will this sell more clothing for Gap?  My guess is that it will, simply because they managed to get top-of-mind awareness this week, even among people who were mocking them.  This much exposure can’t ever hurt a brand, and I bet Gap’s holiday earnings are better than expected.

So, whether it was accidental (a la New Coke) or intentional, congratulations to the Gap executives.  I bet this is one risk that will pay off for them.

P.S.  I considered posting the new logo, then thought better of it.  It’s ugly, in my humble opinion.

  • Great points, Jason — agreed this was a buzz-booster for The Gap! It also appears (however strategized behind the scenes/or as/if intended) to have utilized crowd sourcing for design input, doesn’t it?

  • Becky – Agreed on all counts. They ending up getting far more attention by failing than by playing it safe, huh?

  • Emmary Nicholson

    I’ve been following this and find it so amazing how social media’s influence is getting stronger and stronger every day. Was this a publicity stunt by The Gap? Not sure but if it was, it was brilliant. The new logo looks like it took an intern :30 in Photoshop. The amount of free pub they got (just before the shopping season, mind you) is priceless.

  • Emmary – I agree wholeheartedly. I don’t often say, “I could do better than that” when it comes to professional design work, but that was atrocious. As I mentioned in the post, I bet their holiday numbers are better than originally expected. 🙂

  • I happen to think they threw their designers under the bus on this one, and should have kept the “new” logo and given it a chance.

    Odds of people picketing in front of their stores asking for the old one back would have been slim. And those who would hate the company because of a new logo — it’s just a LOGO and not their BRAND — wouldn’t be buying jeans anyway.