What kind of designer would I be if I didn’t write about the Gap logo debacle? I know I’m a little late to the party, but I’ve been researching and staying up to date, so cut me some slacks (that was a reach, but I think I stuck the landing).
I assume a lot of you have at least heard about the situation, and if not I’ll give you a very brief time line. “Time line” might not be the right phrase, since I’m not posting dates or, ahem, times. Regardless;
- Gap has the logo you have always seen.
- Gap all of a sudden has a new logo!
- The design community freaks out.
- The internet follows suit.
- Gap says they hear the criticism, but stand by their new logo…BUT would like to see what others can come up with. This is also know as crowd sourcing.
- The design community freaks out even more. And here we are.
Designers laid into Gap for their logo choice. Helvetica lettering with a small blue square. Kind of simple for such a huge company, don’t you think? Especially a company with such a history and reputation in the industry. Why would they drastically change the look that made them so successful and well-known? Your guess is as good as mine. “To stir up some buzz” they might tell us, if they were to speak candidly about the decision. Maybe business was slowing down, and they figured it was because customers were tired of their old logo. Couldn’t be the economy, surely it’s the logo. At best a new logo would drum up a little interest, but is a fleeting buzz really worth losing your ability to be instantly recognized? The new logo is too much like any sign that features the commonplace font. It’s too similar to American Apparel. In branding your company, your goal should never be to blend in. Write that down. Gap had a brand that people recognized, noticed, looked for, even understood. Imagine the apparel logo landscape as a small town. The old Gap logo is the corner store owner that everyone knows and trusts. They go to him in times of need. The new logo is a stranger with candy and a van with no windows. Now nobody knows them, or wants to know them. One would conclude that this may hurt business. One would probably be right. So Gap traded in their credibility for a logo that, frankly, doesn’t fit their company and a chance at creating a little momentary “buzz”. Not a good idea. Timeless is key. If you can reach that level, you’re golden. The Boston Celtics have a timeless look, therefore they are noticed universally. The look has sunk into all of our heads. Gap was headed in that same direction. Granted, their brand isn’t as old as the example given, but one day it would be. Gap turned out to just be too impatient to see that day.
Even if they go back to their old logo and pretend this never happened, it did. We all saw it. Ellen DeGeneres did a good piece in her stand-up act a while ago talking about tripping walking down the sidewalk. She said if you turn the trip into a jog and pretend like that was just your first jogging step, you’re still jogging down the sidewalk in everyday clothes and people aren’t dumb enough to buy that. Gap, we were standing right here, don’t pretend it didn’t happen.
The part that I really need to address, the crowd sourcing, would bring this post to roughly a million words. And I really don’t have the time to type that all out. All I will say on the topic is this; Imagine your neighbor hired a carpenter to build him/her a garage. Perfectly normal. Now imagine it was ugly, so you and all your other neighbors made fun of them for it. That probably seems mean, but follow the analogy. Next, your neighbor holds a press conference saying, “I love this garage, and I’ll keep it…unless anyone out there wants to build me a better one. Let’s see what you got! Oh, and I won’t be paying you, as I already threw all my money at the original carpenter, you understand.” Insane right? I rest my case.
It is important to note that I don’t walk around screaming, “Fail!” at everything, it just fit in this case.