Gap Bows to Outcry, Nixes New Logo and Crowdsourcing

Online logo outrage claims another victim.

After an outpouring of hatred for Gap's new logo, the company has announced that they're squashing the design. This is perhaps the largest logo backtrack of recent memory — followed only by Tropicana's disastrous rebranding. Which must leave many companies wondering how to go about any sort of rebranding in the Internet age.

The rather hasty-sounding press release brings up a few points: 1. We were listening to the online outcry. 2. The old brand will be back across all channels. 3. We won't crowdsource.

Gap's squashed new logo on the left. They will return to the old "blue box" logo on the right, which they've used for 20 years

In their own words:

Since we rolled out an updated version of our logo last week on our website, we've seen an outpouring of comments from customers and the online community in support of the iconic blue box logo.

Last week, we moved to address the feedback and began exploring how we could tap into all of the passion. Ultimately, we've learned just how much energy there is around our brand. All roads were leading us back to the blue box, so we've made the decision not to use the new logo on any further.

You'll notice that the last paragraph above acknowledges that Gap's embrace of crowdsourcing was a hasty attempt at damage control, following the disastrous initial rollout. This was precisely the point that a Gap VP refused comment on, in our previous interview. And here's the backtrack away from crowdsourcing:

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.

There may be a time to evolve our logo, but if and when that time comes, we'll handle it in a different way.

The brand managers quickly realized they had stepped away from a bad logo, and into one of the most despised practices in the design community: Free work. (Many, including no less than the AIGA, are officially against "spec work" that brings down the price of services for all; crowdsourcing is often decried as a back door spec work, with a fancy marketing gloss. The AIGA in fact sent a letter to Gap, right after the crowdsourcing attempt was announced.)

You gotta wonder: Are rebrandings — whether bold and visionary or downright terrible — impossible in the age of Twitter and Facebook? Will companies know when an outcry isn't pointing to a terrible design, but rather just people refusing to embrace change?

For now, Gap is a loser in all this: Not only has their brand suffered ("I hate Gap," went many of the Twitter responses), but they're stuck with a logo that looks dated and now symbolizes a bygone knack for retailing — and right before the Christmastime marketing blitz.

Another big loser? Crowdsourcing in design, when done by a massive corporation. What big brand would ever try it, after such a high-profile defeat?

Check out our full coverage:

Gap on Disastrous New Logo: "We're Open to Other Ideas"

An Exclusive Interview With the New Gap Logo

Gap's Retro Redesign Incites Flaming Logo Rage

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  • Drawmark

    Anger. Hatred. Misplaced Rage. Apparently those are the three essential qualities of the modern design class.

    Shame on designers for getting on their social media soap boxes to feign horror and disgust at something so meaningless.

    Double shame on the Gap for folding like a cheap pair of chinos.

  • Drawmark

    To Protest the New/Old GAP logo I'm Going to The GAP to Unfold/Refold Mock Turtleneck Sweaters.

  • Drawmark

    To Protest the New/Old GAP logo I'm Going to Kill a Hobo. Then Bring Him Back to Life.

  • Drawmark

    To Protest the New/Old GAP logo, Whenever I Drink New Coke I Will Piss Coke Classic.

  • Jamey Boiter

    cliff, thanks for the quick response. to answer your question, "re-brandings" are certainly possible in the age of twitter and facebook. if done the right way. and done for the right reasons. change for change sake has never been acceptable among a brand's constituents. there needs to be a compelling reason why, and then the work that is done must fit shift in market or reason that precipitated the change. all too often, change comes because of the wrong reasons. a company is trying to self-diagnose it's symptoms, and come up with a treatment. but they end up just treating the symptom, not the root problem.

    that is yet another compelling reason why aiga is right, and crowd sourcing is wrong. a successful brand can have millions of dollars tied up in brand equity and good will with their mark, only to lose over trying to be too cool, or fit a mold not made for your brand. there is a reason you hire brand strategist and brand innovators. professionals do the work to get it right.

    the attempted change of the gap was missing a very important ingredient — consumer empathy. for if it had it, it would not have been so quickly dismissed by its own.

    and i'm not saying the old logo is the answer either. now is the time to do the hard work to determine what the real problem is with the brand, and not go back to being the same. unless of course, the change was just a whim to start with.
    jamey boiter, aiga