Brand Visual Identity and Social Media

Gap recent attempt to change its logo didn’t work out the according to plans.  Fans of the venerable apparel retailer took to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to voice their opposition.  Gap quickly reversed its decision, given the huge consumer opposition.  Here are the old and new versions.  Gap is still identified by its old logo, which is 20+ years old.

Gap is not giving up.  It is now trying to turn the logo change into an “brand engagement” exercise.  They have announced a crowd sourcing project for a new logo.

According to this announcement Gap wants consumers to suggest ideas for a new logo. This is following the recent trend of letting consumers design packaging, ads or propose new product ideas.

Here is what Gap says on its Facebook page:

Thanks for everyone’s input on the new logo! We’ve had the same logo for 20+ years, and this is just one of the things we’re changing. We know this logo created a lot of buzz and we’re thrilled to see passionate debates unfolding! So much so we’re asking you to share your designs. We love our version, but we’d like to see other ideas. Stay tuned for details in the next few days on this crowd sourcing project.

It appears that the agency that did the work for Gap did not really serve the company well.  Was there any consumer research?  Why wasn’t the negative reaction anticipated? Why wasn’t there any explanation for the logo change?

Every major brand wants a more contemporary logo now with stylish, lower case font. Pepsi, Kodak and Xerox, to name a few, have a new look now. In an earlier post, I argued against ill-conceived changes to brand visual identity.

But is crowd sourcing via social media the way to go when it comes to creating a new visual identity for the brand?  Social media definitely had a lot to do with Gap reversing its earlier decision on the logo change.  Is the logo just a creative or should it be embedded with meaning? If the logo has to reflect the underlying brand attributes, personality or vision, should Gap really leave it to consumers?

What do Gap’s consumers think?  Many are opposed to the logo change.  Many are opposed to crowd sourcing the logo design.  As I said in the earlier post on brand logos, I believe it is good to revisit the brand visuals from time to time.  When visuals change, they still need to reflect the brand’s essence and have some connection to the brand’s heritage.