Gap-lash: The strong negative reaction to Gap’s redesigned logo, which was revealed without fanfare on the retailer’s website October 4. Coined from “Gap” and “backlash.”
In an October 8 post, the media and gossip website Gawker called the new logo one of “Branding’s Greatest Misses.”
The main problem: Gap just stuck the logo on their website without bothering to tell anyone they were rebranding, or why. The secondary problem: the logo is dumb.
The first appearance of Gap-lash may have been in a headline on the Forbes blog MarketShare. In the accompanying story, reporter Ken Bruno wrote:
Online, consumers are buzzing about the change and are posting gripes on Facebook. “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. The original Gap logo is classic and iconic. By changing it.. you’ve completed destroyed what it took 20+ years to build,” one Facebook user says on Gap’s page on the social networking site. One website lets visitors design their own “New Gap” logo. A parody Twitter account has also surfaced – @GapLogo.
Also on Twitter, #Gaplash briefly became a trending topic.
Although many observers complained that the new logo look amateurish, it was in fact designed by Gap’s longtime design agency, Laird + Partners. The logo has drawn criticism from sources as diverse as the Harvard Business Review (“Like most companies, the Gap just doesn’t understand the game-changing power of design”), Fast Company (“a total Gap in understanding what branding is all about”), Your Logo Makes Me Barf (“New Gap Logo Is a Box of Fail”), and the AdWeek blog AdFreak (“[M]aybe it’s intentionally shitty?”)
That last comment was provoked by a post on Gap’s Facebook page that chirped, “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.”
Commenters swiftly piled on: “Exactly WHO gave input on the new logo? Chimps?” “What do crowds know? theyre [sic] mindless sheep! youre [sic] a brand leader, SO LEAD!” “Good graphic designers don't work for free. They understand the value of what good design can do for your business.”
One of the more eloquent responses came from Mike Monteiro, a principal at Mule Design in San Francisco, in his agency's blog. “Dear Gap, I have your new logo,” the post began.
It’s unbelievably good. Fantastic, even. I’m convinced it’s what you need.
It draws on the deep history of the brand and evokes the simple understated elegance that the world has come to expect from The Gap. But it also reaches forward. It provides hope and just the right amount of desperate desire and anxiety brought on by fear of loneliness that the Twitter demographic wants. (Yes, men in their mid-30’s.) . . .
So as much as I’d like to just show you the greatest logo I’ve ever made for anyone . . . I’d like to be properly compensated for it. Because I put a lot of time and effort into it. And it’s how I earn my living. . . .
And for the sake of full disclosure I should let you know that I’ve also frequently shopped at your stores. You sell good stuff. But never in my experience has any of your employees offered me a free pair of pants because the ones I was wearing looked bad. I wouldn’t expect them to. Their job is to sell me clothes.
My job is to sell design.
I believe we understand each other. I anxiously await your call and look forward to negotiating a fair value for the greatest logo on Earth.
Other terms newly coined to describe the logo controversy have included Gapocalypse and Gapgate. I’ve written previously about the popularity of –alypse as a combining suffix (see Word of the Week: Inaugalypse). As for –gate compounds, they’ve proliferated ever since “Watergate” became a metaphor for “scandal” in the early 1970s. For a long list of –gate scandals (not yet updated to include Gapgate), see this Wikipedia entry.
And for some perspective, see AdFreak’s compilation of 30 other corporate logo redesigns.
UPDATE: PR and corporate-communications professionals tell Ragan.com what they think about the new logo and Gap’s branding strategy. (Hat tip: Rob Reinalda.)
UPDATE 2: In a Facebook update posted late on the afternoon of October 11, Gap announced that it would be scrapping the new logo, effective immediately. The press release reads in part:
We’ve learned a lot in this process. And we are clear that we did not go about this in the right way. We recognize that we missed the opportunity to engage with the online community. This wasn’t the right project at the right time for crowd sourcing.