In this episode, the guys chat about the the time GAP rolled out the shortest lived logo in brand history and some of the problems that plague brandmark development. Nico Talks about how many logos children recognize by age 3 and Chad talks about the right and wrong ways to crowdsourced logos.

1988, Gap debuted its now-iconic blue square logo. In 2010, when Gap unveiled their new logo, the first redesign since the birth of the iconic blue square in the late 80s. Even if a new logo failed to get Gap’s sales back to where they would have liked, it’s not like something as little as a new logo would hurt them right?
Gap's new logo flops - Oct. 8, 2010

Consumers’ reactions to the new Gap logo in 2010 were swift, decisive, full of memes, and, most importantly, bad news for Gap.  The redesign quickly brought mainstream attention and a kind of wrath you can really only find on the internet that, for a marketer, must be what nightmares are made of. At the same time, if you’re looking on the bright side of things, it was the same kind of reaction that provides valuable lessons that make it possible for other marketers to (hopefully) avoid making the same mistakes. 

On October 6th, 2010, Marka Hansen, president of Gap North America, unveiled the company’s new logo. Hansen said it was more contemporary and current, honoring the “heritage through the blue box while still taking it forward.”


After introducing a new logo, a slew of criticism rolled in, some of it coming in the form of more than 2,000 comments on Facebook, prompting Gap’s above Facebook post the night of the unveiling. 

Additionally, a ‘Make Your Own Gap Logo’ site went viral on the internet prompting nearly 14,000 parody design versions.  Meanwhile, Hansen said that “the outpouring of comments” showed that the company “did not go about this in the right way.” On October 6th, Gap announced that they would be reconsidering the emblem and promised to take on board customers’ personal suggestions. This tactic might have been an attempt to hit two birds with one stone, find a better new logo and get back in their customers’ good graces. Instead of exuding confidence and professionalism, Gap showed their uncertainty when they turned to crowdsourcing.

Days after Gap announced they would be taking suggestions ‘from the audience’ as it were, the company folded, admitting its mistakes in not consulting its customers first. Gap reverted to its original design after announcing its new logo to the public. 

What Gap Got Right

It’s a shame that a well-intentioned attempt to shake things up a bit cost Gap so much money. To Gap’s credit, they were quick to notice the online criticism, which made a good example of how social media can be an ally and significant benefit to companies. More importantly, Gap wasn’t just quick to notice; they were quick to respond. Gap performed what is possibly one of the fastest branding turnarounds of all time when they reverted to their original design just six days after putting their new logo out into the public. 

Some people say Gap’s turnaround was so speedy that it’s suspicious. But with Tropicana’s mistake as recently as the year before, it’s possible that Gap was able to do what people are doing with Gap’s story now, and learned from others’ mistakes. Gap did all of that – released the new design, received criticism, tried to crowdsource, admitted defeat, and reverted to the original design – and they did it all in a week. Gap’s one-week-lived logo is a testament to how imperative it is as a company to be wary of but not afraid of social media and to remain reactive and engaged with your consumers.

Don’t try to fix what isn’t broken

Gap insisted that its new logo was part of how the brand was evolving and represented an effort to align its product and brand with customers more closely. However, for that to actually be true, Gap would have had to reach out to its consumers before they made a change to a twenty-plus-year-old aspect of the brand or tried to crowdsource. One of the reasons logos are essential is consistency. Consistency is vital for many reasons. One of which is that people simply don’t like change. To some people, Gap’s blue logo disappearing without warning felt a lot like having a rug ripped out from under you.

What Can Be Learned

This rebranding failure exemplified social media’s power and the importance of notifying your customer base of a rebrand ahead of time.
Do your research.
Don’t fix what isn’t broken – yes, even the “small” things.
Consistency is key.
They tell you to ‘stick to the basics’ when you seem to have forgotten the simplest of facts but sticking to the basics is also a good way of saying basic works.

We talk about

[07:10] Gap company history
[08:45] Gap’s logo redesign
[12:50] Crowdsourcing brand’s identity on Twitter
[15:00] Reactions 
[19:00] Gap reverts to its original design, how much did it cost and what did they do right
[26:00] Where marketers go wrong
[32:15] What can be learned

Episode Script Writer: Grace Wall
Research Analyst: Gertruda Gilyte

Enjoy the show!

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments