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.
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 gap.com 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?
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