Did Gap listen? Or just cave?


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There’s a fine line between listening to your audience and caving to it. Just ask The Gap.

On Oct. 6th, the retailer unveiled a new logo that gap-newlogo-100510was intended to reflect the brand’s “evolution” of an updated product line and associations with respected cutting-edge designers. But within hours of “leaking” the new logo to its Facebook fans, Gap started to backpedal. By that afternoon, it was asking fans to submit their own designs, saying the new logo wasn’t set in stone. And by Oct. 11—just five days after the first announcement—the new logo was DOA, and Gap announced it was retaining its classic logo.

So what happened? The short answer is that the brand’s followers in Social Media (as well as some Social Media heavy hitters) were quite vocal in their opinion that the new logo sucked. Not only did the blogosphere and the Twitterati pillory the new design, they spawned a host of Social Media profiles and applications to make their point (the most entertaining of these is www.craplogo.me, where you can turn your own logo, name or whatever, into a new Gap-like logo). The new logo and its creators, Laird & Partners of New York, were the latest casualties of “crowd sourcing.”

This is not a blog post about the design of the logo. Everyone I’m sure has an opinion one way or another on that one. What I really want to delve into is this: was Gap right to eat a little crow and kill the new logo in favor of the old one? Or was the marketer merely caving to appease the loudest voices in the room?

First, a reality check. People hate change. They will almost always pick the status quo over something new. That’s just how folks are wired. So when a marketer updates or changes any of its brand assets, there is going to be resistance, and it will probably come from some of the folks who know the brand best. Research shows consumers most committed to a brand will have stronger and more negative reactions to redesign efforts.

So does this mean that if you want to please your most loyal customers, you should just forget about ever changing your logo? Or anything else for that matter?

Sorry, this is just silly. The Gap project aside, once there’s a commitment to update or revise your logo (or any other brand asset), assuming you have a justifiable business reason to do so, stick to your guns. Understand people hate change and there’s always going to be some measure of push back. This stuff blows over.

Social Media is terrific for getting a real time read on what’s going on with your audience. Part of that territory, however, is handing a megaphone to the whiners out there. The key is to be able to fit this all into context and not be reactionary to each and every comment.

Whatever you do, don’t be frozen into inactivity for fear you might tick a few vocal people off.

Was The Gap right, then, in going back to its classic logo? I happen to like the old one better. But I’m sure if it had changed, within six months, I probably wouldn’t have given it any thought, as long as it reflected the more “contemporary” promise of the brand.

It’s always a good idea for marketers to get input from their customers. But be sure you’re prepared for what they have to say.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mickey Lonchar
Mickey Lonchar has spent the better part of two decades creating award-winning advertising with agencies up and down the West Coast, Mickey currently holds the position of creative director with Quisenberry Marketing & Design, a full-service advertising and interactive shop with offices in Spokane and Seattle, Wash.


  1. Whether justified or based on knee jerk reactions, brands/companies today are afraid of their socially powered customers… we’re seeing them cave far too often, out of fear — rather than REALLY listening to their customers.


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