• Nice post Ken.
    Love this: “Wow, what a screw-up. Let’s see a few thousand ideas for free, and bill this as a breakthrough social media experiment.”

    So what would Paul Rand have to say about all of this?


  • sarumbear

    “Gap is in a tough business that’s all about design, and refreshing the logo is one way to instill new spirit companywide.”

    It is “one way” but also the least important one.

    Logos are used to help the consumer to differentiate your brand from others in one look. It takes time and nurturing to make a logo work as intended. Unless you are going to make simultaneous changes to your brand and marketing, a new logo by itself can only make the consumer forget you. And if you are lucky they will hate you and force you to revert to what was there in the first place. Remember the new Coke incident?

    There is just one thing left for Gap’s top brass to do now: Admit that they were wrong and revert to the old logo. They can at least benefit from the PR value.

    Some years ago, here in UK, the Royal Mail decided that they need to ‘refresh’ the company. Royal Mail is the ubiquitous service all around the globe since Britain was Great. Generations of people at all parts of the world know it. In spite of that Royal Mail top brass decided to start ‘fresh’ and changed it to ‘Insignia’. What does rhymes with that name? Insignificant!

    I don’t have to tell you after spending hundred million or more they revert back to what they had, Royal Mail. Idiots!

    So please do not use the word ‘fresh’. You cannot ‘freshen’ something by a simple name or logo change. You need to change the way you serve your customers. As Microsoft can never ‘freshen’ anything (the new Windows 7 phone included) until they change their top brass (starting from getting rid of Ballmer), Gap couldn’t have done either.

  • Glenn Fleishman

    “So what would Paul Rand have to say about all of this?”

    I studied for a week with Paul Rand once, and he would have said innumerable unprintable things that were amusing, then charged an enormous fee to set things right if asked.

  • Stephen Sonnenfeld

    Sorry sarumbear, but you’re overlooking one important fact. Gap is a retailer! That sells clothes! Their logo is front and center in every conceivable way that a consumer interacts with the brand.

    They “freshen” the way they serve customers every day by putting new clothes out there for people to buy, so they’re way ahead of you there. Not to mention the fact that they’re constantly tinkering with their in-store/online experiences.

    So it’s not hard to argue that for a brand like the Gap, their logo is perhaps their valuable asset. Fact is, they’re a decent brand that manages to stay fairly close to the modern edge of fashion. They are a relevant brand for millions of people. But their logo is dated and doesn’t match the image of their products or stores. Changing the logo for them is the critical component in altering their overall perception. But of course they screwed it magnificently, so shame on them.

  • Dan Pahlajani

    First, I think Gap’s biggest mistake was selecting a wrong firm to design their logo.

    Laird + Partners seems to be a billboard and magazine ad (designing spreads) company from their website and not a logo/branding company. Laird + Partners may understand a thing or 2 about branding but they clearly don’t seem to be a logo design company–my opinion is simply based on the visit to their website.

    So Gap is equally at fault for picking a wrong company to redesign their logo and not just Laird + Partners.

    Secondly, if Gap wants social network (from their FaceBook post) to help design their logo I think they should tell us why they are changing the logo in the first place. What is their new vision and goals for the new logo.

    UX Designer

  • ChuckO

    This is right up there with the Pepsi logo change for me. Trying for modern\tasteful but ending up bland\meaningless. I also have to say the logo is my favorite thing about the Gap. You really have to have the right thing if your going to change something so integral to the company. I don’t have a strong sense of what The Gap is apart from that logo. Initially they seemed like some weird knockoff Levi retailer and then they became synonymous with “khakis” now they seem kind of adrift like the country itself…oops sorry didn’t mean to get too heavy!

  • sarumbear

    Stephen Sonnenfeld said: “But their logo is dated and doesn’t match the image of their products or stores.”

    So in your logic soon Google have to change their logo. After more than a decade of use it is certainly ‘dated’ and it is not really matching their products like Google TV, or Android Phones. Can you imagine Google changing their logo?

    As I said in my post. Gap’s logo was a mature logo. Mature and dated are miles apart. Who can argue that Coca Cola’s logo is not old fashioned? Will anyone think of changing it?

    You may tinker with your logo a bit like Apple did by making it mono chromic, but you leave a mature logo as is as much as you can. Retailers will recognise you with your logo, but they will decide to buy with your service and products. Leave your logo alone and improve your offerings.

  • They’ve already admitted that they screwed it up, including with the “crowdsourcing” attempt.


    (Loved the post, Ken.)

  • ken segall

    Apple is a pretty good example, because they have evolved their logo so many times in the last 10-14 years, and done so with great success. (Flat rainbow to 3D blue, to 3D multiple colors, to 3D gray, to flat gray (and white reflective logo in other places, like iPhone startup). No matter how many times it’s changed, it’s still recognized as the Apple logo — it simply keeps up with the times. The rainbow logo was considered a classic and many considered a change unimaginable. But they went ahead and modernized anyway. Now that logo looks laughably old.

    Some companies are afraid to modernize logos (and/or wary of the very high cost), many other great brands have seen the value in it. If you are a successful global company with a well-known logo, the key is evolving, not replacing. It’s not an impossible job. It just takes talented people.

    In my opinion, what Gap did is unforgivable because (a) the new design was bad, and (b) they were more abandoning their ID than evolving it. Hardly matters now, of course. As Josh points out — Gap has officially surrendered and retreated.

  • Kenny Liebman

    Before you monkeys go too far down the “Apple is the gold standard in logo design” path, check out the latest development from Cupertino. Seems our beloved fruit is about to be turned into applesauce, with only a leaf as logo. I’d call that Thinking stupid.


  • That’s a great Scoopertino article!

    Honestly, I don’t get what all the fuss is about. What’s so wrong about this GAP logo? It’s simple and modern. What’s problematic about the whole situation is how GAP chooses to react to the whole situation. It’s a lesson in incredibly poor Branding insight rather than poor design.

    By admitting they’re wrong, they’re also admitting that they don’t really matter. They’ve chosen to forgo their own identity and believes in order to accommodate everyone’s criticism. What they should instead have done is fought for this logo – and shown us why it works and will work in the future. Instead they admit defeat and go back to their old ways.

    That’s a Brand in decay. One that has no identity of its won, but simply tries too hard to be what people wants it to be.

    By the way Ken, when will comments be integrated with Twitter, Facebook, WordPress accounts?

  • The Gap’s bigger problem is they make it very hard for customers to buy their clothes.

    They opened their special 1969 store last year a couple of blocks from my place in SoHo. I received a lot of special discount offers 2 for 1, etc, so I immediately went in the store and online and tried to buy what looked like some nice new stuff.

    Literally everything worth buying was not available in the store or online. I called them up and asked them why? They said it was an experimental store, or something to that effect.

    A pretty self-defeating marketing strategy if you ask me.

    From their latest logo fiasco, it appears that whomever is running the GAP now is more of a theoretician than a practitioner.

    In other words, the idea of a new logo is more important than designing a good one.

    At this point maybe they should consider changing their name…? To: iGAP

  • ChuckO

    That’s it modernize a classic logo don’t completely redesign.

    Coke seems like the exception that proves the rule. I don’t know why exactly but they can’t change anything about Coke itself. Is there any other brand like that?

  • Marian

    I just checked their website. They scraped any trace of the new logo.