Criticism causes Gap to backtrack on logo

By Jonathan Birchall in New York

Published: October 8 2010 22  | Last updated: October 8 2010 22


Gap, the global clothing chain, has backtracked on a substantial relaunch of its renowned logo just days after it was unveiled.

The new logo – three black letters and a small blue square – provoked a storm of online abuse from both customers and graphic designers on blogs after it was unveiled on Gap’s US website on Monday.

Three days later the company used its Facebook page to announce that it was “thrilled to see passionate debates unfolding”, but was seeking alternative ideas from its fans and critics through a “crowd sourcing” project.

“We love our version, but we’d like to … see other ideas,” the statement said.

Marka Hansen, president of Gap’s North America business, followed up with commentary on the Huffington Post, the news and comment site, explaining that the new logo had been chosen as “more contemporary and current”.

But she said the brand now wanted to take customers feedback “and work together as we move ahead”, promising that details of the new crowd sourcing effort would be released soon.

The new logo was developed by Laird & Partners, a New York creative agency, as part of a brand overhaul at Gap that began two years ago under Ms Hansen, who reports to Glenn Murphy, Gap’s chief executive.

In addition to the logo, the new typeface and imagery has been applied to its North American online site, although it has not been applied its recently launched European and UK online business.

Designers have compared the turnaround with PepsiCo’s decision last year to abandon a redesign of its Tropicana fruit juice brand. Unlike Gap’s rapid response, PepsiCo’s reversal took four weeks, and came after evidence that the new design had led to falls in supermarket sales of its juices.

Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest consumer goods company, this year battled through a highly visible surge in internet comment from customers when it relaunched its Pampers nappies.

Its executives argued that the volume of online criticism was consistent with reactions to previous evolutions in its products.

Dorothy Wolden of Creative Intuition, an Arizona-based design company, said she initially “kept thinking it must be a joke”.

“I guess we just don’t understand in the first place why they had to change what they already had,” she said.

“The brand equity that they had with the old logo was just tremendous.”