Gap logo repeal: Publicity stunt or branding fail?

Andrew Stanten


The reasons behind the Gap logo repeal may never be revealed, but I have my opinion. So here goes:

Publicity stunt is highly unlikely. Companies change their logos all the time. Rarely do they engage their customers in the discussion. It’s typically internal and driven by creative types. The difference here is the emergence of the great megaphone known as social media channels. Power to the people. Congratulations, you all now have a voice. Use it wisely.

Let’s keep in mind a few important factors:

  1. Your logo is NOT your Brand. My article in the East Penn Business Journal a few months ago got a lot of people talking—and for good reason.
  2. You cannot predict how consumers will react. If there’s one thing the social media experts will agree on, it’s the fact that what does and doesn’t go “viral” is utterly unpredictable.
  3. Gap is in the business of SELLING CLOTHES. And while Gap is very image driven, it’s not in the business of graphic design. Logo design is very subjective. Some people may actually have loved the new logo.

At the end of the day the “backlash” over the logo was fun silliness. A logo has nothing to do with the color of a sweater, or whether jeans are starting to trend skinny. It also has nothing to do with the value of the company’s product.

If the new logo was an attempt to breathe new life into the Gap brand, then shame on Gap. Brands are improved by delivering a better, fresher, newer more competitive product or service, and then articulating the new value.

Brands are improved by delivering a better, fresher, newer more competitive product or service, and then articulating the new value.

The backlash was fueled in large part by people who don’t particularly like change. The nature of social media is that when there’s something hot—or easy to pick on—people jump on the bandwagon. People also like picking on the thousand-pound gorilla because the web, and social media channels in particular, are the Great Equalizer. A single individual’s voice can be louder than a billion-dollar company’s voice.

So if the “new” logo was simply a publicity stunt (which I don’t believe is the case), then it failed. Sure, short term, Gap got a little blip of attention. But no self-respecting company would make itself look silly just to be able to turn around and say, “We are not idiots anymore, because we listen to our customers!”

In the end, Gap did the right thing. They listened. Now they should fire their agency for not doing upfront due diligence.

Andrew Stanten

Andrew Stanten co-founded Altitude Marketing in 2004. As CEO, he ensures the right people are on board, delivering world-class marketing services to Altitude’s global client base, and staying true to Altitude’s mission, vision and values.
Andrew possesses an innate ability to process, organize and summarize massive volumes of client and market information and turn it into actionable, strategic thinking. This enables Team Altitude to get smart about a company quickly—and develop winning, integrated approaches that vault clients into a position of prominence and strength.
Andrew graduated from Syracuse University and earned his MBA from Lehigh University.