What Social Media Lesson Did Gap Learn?

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Gap North America president Marka Hansen,”‘The outpouring of comments’ shows ‘we did not go about this in the right way”…

So for those of you who missed this from last week. Clothing retailer Gap decided to change logos.

They decided to go from this…

To this…

Ouch…

Without really knowing the full back story but having a good feel for when major retailers and companies crowdsource new ideas, I think it’s safe to say that Gap really didn’t reach out to its user base to find out what they might think. Unfortunately given the trying economic times, sometimes big brands think that a wholesale change in look and feel, brand identity and messaging is the thing that will pump new life into a company.

Yes but..

Gap sales were off 4%. Everyone’s sales are off. It’s the Gap. The logo wasn’t the problem. It never was.

We identify with this…

So here’s what happened. As soon as people got wind of the new logo, and when I say wind, I mean a viral, ebola, swine flu type. They went off. Where? Throughout all the major social media platforms and channels of course. And it wasn’t pretty. The comments and reactions were, to say the least, quite emotional in a negative sort of way. In fact, a Twitter account was set up (of course) to protest and quickly amassed over 5,000 followers; and a“Make your own Gap logo” site was created (of course) and it went viral  producing thousands of “logo alternatives.” These are the times that we live in. UGC (user generated content) can, in some cases will, bring the big brands to their knees.

So what was Gap to do? The idea of a new shiny brand identity had completely backfired. The initial intent, wherever it may have been initiated, just plain missed the mark on assuming that what was best for the brand and for sales was creating a new logo- especially I might add, a logo that was so unimaginative. The first thing you do in this new digital age is you use the tools that you have at your disposal, to confer with those that are completely enamored of the brand  and you ask them what they think and you listen to them. And… you believe them. Your trust them. That might have been Gap’s only mistake, if indeed they did ask their brand champions and ambassadors what they thought.

OK, so I’m in the warm room at Gap and it’s damage control time. How do we get out of this mess? We obviously sat in a room and agreed with the highest ranked person in the room who happened to love the logo but we failed to perhaps use social media channels to ask those that wear our clothes what they thought. What do we do?

You spin it the best way you can…

Marka Hansen, president of the Gap brand in North America, conceded that the “outpouring of comments” showed the company “did not go about this in the right way”.

Then you jump on a social network with 500 million users while you still can.. and you say via Gap’s Facebook page:

“We’ve been listening to and watching all of the comments this past week. We heard them say over and over again they are passionate about our blue box logo, and they want it back. So we’ve made the decision to do just that – we will bring it back across all channels.

“We’ve learned a lot in this process. And we are clear that we did not go about this in the right way. We recognise 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. “

So.. lesson learned? The Gap might not have used social media on the front end, nor in the middle, but in the process of damage control and reputation management, were wise enough to listen on the back end and fix something before it was too late.

Welcome back Gap logo.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Marc Meyer
As a Digital and Social Media strategist and CEO for Digital Response Marketing Group, Marc Meyer has been able to take technology, marketing and the world of all things digital and simplify it in a way that makes sense not only for the SMB owner, but also the discerning C-suite executive of a Fortune 500 company.

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