Five things we all can learn from Gap’s “logogate”

Welcome Chris Barnard, creative director at nFusion and today’s guest blogger. Here are Chris’ insights on the Gap logo fiasco:

Two weeks after its introduction it’s safe to say that the new Gap logo was an epic fail of massive proportions. And any misstep of this magnitude offers more than a few lessons learned. Here are five constructive things we can take away from Gap’s well-publicized logogate.

1. Score one for the angry social mob.

Malcolm Gladwell recently downplayed the power of social media by noting, “the revolution will not be tweeted.” I can think of a few Gap executives who might seriously disagree. Within hours of its unveiling, critical tweeters turned the new Gap logo into the laughingstock of the Internet. Given the uproar, it’s surprising to learn that, according to AdAge, fewer than 20% of consumers were aware of the logo change. Unfortunately for Gap, those 20% were vocal, passionate and empowered to share their opinions. All thanks to social media.

2. It’s not the crime. It’s the cover up.

While Gap didn’t technically cover up its logo debacle, the way it responded to controversy made a bad situation infinitely worse. Gap waffled from the start, initially proposing a crowdsourcing model to collect new logo ideas on Facebook. After that inspired greater outcry, the brand abandoned all plans and reverted back to its original logo. As a result, Gap came across looking clueless and out of touch — a particularly deadly combination for a fashion brand.

3. Logos need selling, too.

When an iconic company presents its first new logo in decades, it is (and should be) a big deal. So why not introduce your new identity with a bang? Spend some money on an integrated campaign that tells your customers what this new look means for the evolution of your brand. Start a conversation instead of reacting to one. And put the same effort into selling your expensive new logo that you put into selling $60 jeans. Or you could just quietly launch it on your website and see what happens.

4. Gap’s real problem isn’t a new identity. It’s a lack of identity.

Lost amid all this controversy is the fact that Gap hasn’t been relevant for more than a decade. Gap’s issue isn’t its graphic identity — it’s a total and utter lack of identity. The brand is no longer distinctive in a landscape that includes doppelgangers such as American Eagle, Abercrombie and even its own Old Navy. Gap is in the midst of an identity crisis, which goes a long way towards explaining how such a generic looking logo could get developed in the first place.

5. One brand’s misery is another’s opportunity.

Several companies were clever enough to turn Gap’s pain into their gain. Examples include the fake @gaplogo Twitter account, the Barbarian Group’s craplogome.com, the Gapify Tumbler and the hundreds of bloggers who saw their traffic spike due to Gap logo-related posts. It just goes to show that Internet fandom awaits for the clever few who can create timely, engaging content to capitalize on current events.