As part of a larger rebranding effort, Gap quietly unveiled a new logo on its Web site Monday. In place of the iconic navy box with white writing — associated with the brand for more than 20 years — the new logo features black writing on a white background, and a gradated little blue square behind the p.
The public reaction was immediate, and scathing.
BrandChannel wrote that it “looks like it cost $17 from an old Microsoft Word clipart gallery,” while SitePoint called it “bland” and said, “the navy square looks like it was thrown on at the last minute…” Satirical Twitter accounts – Gap Logo, New Gap Logo, and Old Gap Logo — have already sprung up.
Gap, sensing it had a disaster on its hands, went into full-blown crisis management mode. To appease the angry masses, executives decided to ask users for input on another new logo via the brand’s official Facebook wall. And yesterday, the president of the company took to the Huffington Post to explain the change, saying that, “we chose this design as it’s more contemporary and current. It honors our heritage through the blue box while still taking it forward. Now, given the passionate outpouring from customers that followed, we’ve decided to engage in the dialogue, take their feedback on board and work together as we move ahead and evolve to the next phase of Gap.”
The new logo is the work of big-name firm Laird+Partners; presumably, a lot of time and money went into the new design. Now, the executives at Gap face a tough decision — should they stay the course with this seemingly universally-despised new logo, risk pissing more people off by trying to change it again, or just chalk this up to a Crystal Pepsi-esque mistake and just go back to the original logo?
Gap has long been associated with classic American style. The outrage over something as seemingly incidental as a logo change just goes to show how strongly consumers feel about the brand. As Gap struggles to redefine its identity, hopefully its executives will listen to the thoughts of longtime customers before making any more drastic changes.
UPDATE: In a major reversal, Gap has announced that it is killing the new logo, and sticking with the original. Gap North America president Marka Hansen essentially admitted that the controversy was not helping the brand at all — though who knows, all press might be good press as far as brand awareness is concerned. After all, when’s the last time you heard so much discussion about the Gap?