Gap's Logo Redesign Snafu Snowballs With Social-Media Blunder

gap logo redesign Tinkering with a beloved logo can be dangerous, a lesson Gap (GPS) learned this week when it introduced a new look that's garnering nearly universal criticism. But the clothing retailer's response -- a social-media experiment to draw better ideas from the public and designers -- is only adding to the backlash against the company.

Gap's introduced its new logo on its Website earlier this week, replacing the old logo, a familiar dark-blue square with "Gap" spelled out in white letters that the company had used for more than 20 years. The new logo incorporates black letters with on a white background, with a small blue square jutting out from the "p" in Gap. Designed by Trey Laird of Laird and Partners, the new icon is meant to be "a more contemporary, modern expression," Gap spokesman Bill Chandler told Fast Company's Co.Design blog.

The response to the new logo has been remarkably disdainful, with a parody Twitter account for the new design. (Bio: "I have feelings, too. Jerks.") Consumers and designers posted criticisms of the new logo on Gap's Facebook page, calling it a "catastrophe" and looking "like a child made it." The backlash recalls some other infamous logo redesign blunders, such as Tropicana's 2009 redo of its orange juice cartons. The new look so turned off consumers that sales of its Pure Premium line plunged 20%, prompting the company to scrap the packaging.

Gap's new logo "looks like somebody took Microsoft's PowerPoint and kind of did it in five minutes flat," says David Wolf, the owner of Wolf Snap Designs, a Corona, Calif.-based company that designs Web sites and logos. He says when he first read about the new design, he thought it was a joke. "If I saw a first-year design student do this, I would send them back to the drawing board," he notes.

That's bad enough, but Gap's response to the criticism has only compounded the marketing faux pas. According to a post on The Huffington Post by Marka Hansen, president of Gap North America, Gap is asking "people to share their designs with us as well. We welcome the participation we've seen so far." The problem? It's unclear whether Gap is going to pay for the design work it's asking designers or consumers to send in. "We'll explain specifics on how everyone can share designs in a few days," Hansen wrote. Gap didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Crowd-Sourcing Con: Many Work, One Gets Paid


Crowd-sourcing, or asking the public to work at a task for no guarantee of compensation, is a trend that's gaining traction among companies, but it has been criticized for exploiting workers and lessening the value of certain occupations. The technique has been used by Australian wine maker Yellow Tail to name a new Chardonnay and by NetFlix (NFLX), which offered $1 million for ideas for improving its movie-recommendation software. While the people behind the winning ideas often receive compensation of some sort, the other participants in a crowd-sourcing effort usually get nothing.

Thus, the backlash to the Gap's backlash response. "Coming from a company like the Gap, which is a creative company, to think they should have free designs from which they can pick and choose is slightly laughable," says Wolf. He points out that many top design professionals scorn crowd-sourcing, and suggests that Gap may be sacrificing quality in favor of getting the work done for free. "It makes sense from Gap's perspective -- maybe -- but it doesn't make sense from a professional point of view," he notes.

Actually, it may not make much sense for Gap, either. After all, it was ranked among Interbrand's top 100 global brands for 2010, with the report pegging the value of Gap's image at nearly $4 billion. It's unclear why Gap would place its brand at risk by using social-media technique that's already controversial. But with the holiday shopping season approaching and second-quarter same-store sales down 4%, the retailer may want to get its image in order sooner rather than later.

Learn about investing from the comfort of your own home.

Portfolio Basics

Take the first steps to building your portfolio.

View Course »

Investment Strategies

Learn the strategies you need to build a winning portfolio

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

10 Comments

Filter by:
Hi Catmom!

why change it?????? The old logo was just fine and highly identifiable. Some dip in an office making 6 figures and knowing nothing of marketing thought that one up.

October 13 2010 at 3:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Da Doo Ron Ron

What makes you experts? The fact that you have laptops? Please. Go back and get a REAL education.

October 12 2010 at 2:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lasvegasmonica

Neither logo was high tech graphics, I want to know where they found the people that they tested it on. I honestly think the new one was not bad, again clean and plain, strange they wasted all that money doing this.

October 12 2010 at 1:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
delriumfae

Great article. It explains why this is so bad for the graphic design industry. Please join my fight against this unethical treatment of designers on my facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=131435903573292

October 11 2010 at 1:24 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to delriumfae's comment
delriumfae

If the link isn't working, please look up "boycott gap" within facebook groups. thanks! :)

October 11 2010 at 1:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
denxbi

Hmmmmmmmm the question is this,,,Does the new logo make you wanna buy pants?

October 09 2010 at 11:20 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
denxbi

Titanic hits an iceberg...answer? rearrange the deck furniture....

October 09 2010 at 11:18 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
cyberfreddie

In these times isn't there any better way to spend your money? Surely the money spent on this new logo could be better spent on improving another aspect of the business.

October 08 2010 at 7:16 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
jimmonson1

Looks like one of two things happened. They hired an expensive marketing firm that knows how to use clip art, or they fired their real talent and hired a 25 year old with a recent MBA who can't spell brand management.

October 08 2010 at 6:23 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
paulnott

Outraged about a new company logo??? Don't have ANY problems in this life and this is preceived as one by many?? I'd like to take about five of these people and assign one of my life's problems to each of them-(just one each)-THEN see how important a company logo change would seem to them!! LIFE'S NOT FAIR!!!!! :( :( :(

October 08 2010 at 4:44 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply