In less than 10 days the Web prevailed over Gap.
"Gapastrophe" / "Gapocalypse" / "Gap Rebrands Itself Into Oblivion" / "A monstrosity"... were the terms in which the recent initiative of the brand to change its logo was referred to.
The change of the logo was made quietly last October 4 ... without prior announcement - and the Web, which noticed it immediately, reacted violently - qualifying this change, with reason, a major strategic error. The commentators pointed out the loss of identity (how it went from a logo universally recognizable to one that is commonplace), the ubiquity of the Helvetica typeface that assails us, proposing a world with no rough edges, etc.... As Brandchannel said, Gap chose "Something that looks like it cost $17 from an old Microsoft Word clipart gallery".
This decision - during a difficult period for the brand (too many boutiques, styles changed repeatedly...) - is typical of "brand panic": the "low cost" (Old Navy), and premium (Banana Republic), brands of the Group are doing well - and Gap is losing money. So we change the logo...
Faced with the Web onslaught, Gap first announced (try not to laugh!) that it was an exercise in "crowdsourcing"! On 13 October, the President of Gap USA responded in the Huffington Post: "The natural step for us on this journey is to see how our logo - one that we've had for more than 20 years - should evolve. Our brand and our clothes are changing and rethinking our logo is part of aligning with that. We want our customers to take notice of Gap and see what it stands for today. 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. From this online dialogue, it's clear that Gap still has a close connection to our customers, so tapping into this energy is right. We've posted a message on the Gap Facebook Page that says we plan to ask people to share their designs with us as well. We welcome the participation we've seen so far".
The Web then asked whether Gap did not intend crowdsourcing its business plan as well!
Today the old familiar logo has reappeared.
I will draw two conclusions from this exemplary case:
- When a brand loses its bearings, it is caught up in a self-destructive, "panic" spiral that can even lead it to blindness.
- The takeover of power by consumers – which I have discussed at length on BrandWatch (remember the Tropicana packaging) – really exists: the stronger the brand, the more consumers appropriate it...