French marketers have designated one word to refer to the power Internet users have today: “consomacteur”. Mixing “consumer” and “actor”. Because nowadays brands no longer have the power. Especially through social networks where consumers can directly interact with brands, with not always the best results. Great example of this is the case of GAP, one of the most polemical moves of the brand in its whole history.
In September 2012, GAP decided to change its logo to rejuvenate the brand. A pretty radical
change, especially for a fashion brand, that affected not just its visual identity but its very DNA.
This was a very deep modification that required an explanation, which was completely missing
in the story.
We assume GAP carried out different quantitative and qualitative market studies to test the new
logo created by the agency Laird and Partners, but obviously they didn’t count with the Internet
users’ reaction or their power.
The User Response
Consumers and users didn’t understand the change, but the angriest one was the designer
community. A Helvetica type and a mostly boring square made designers laugh, as they
couldn’t believe GAP had paid 2 million dollars for a logo that was poorer than the historic one
created in 1969 by Donald Fischer.
Faced with the outburst of negative commentaries, GAP’s response arrived quickly. 7 October,
several days after releasing the new logo on its Facebook and Twitter profiles, the brand
published on its wall:
“Thanks for everyone’s input on the new logo! We’ve had the same logo for 20+ years, and this is just one
of the things we’re changing. We know this logo created a lot of buzz and we’re thrilled to see passionate
debates unfolding! So much so we’re asking you to share your designs. We love our version, but we’d like
to see other ideas. Stay tuned for details in the next few days on this crowd sourcing project”.
The repercussions of this matter were so big that even the group’s president, Marka Hanse,
confirmed on her blog the brand’s wish to involve users in the new logo design. However, after
receiving a lot of designs and more critiques, GAP finally decided to listen to its fans and restore
its old logo.
Should GAP have come to its social fans to re-design its logo in the first place? Can historical
brands such as GAP or Yves Saint Laurent change their visual identities without arousing their
consumers’ fury? One thing is for sure, brands can no longer carry out big changes without
considering their public’s voice. Else it can turn out expensive!