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Make the Logo Better

By Peter Lloyd

I want to speak with the designer who came up with the disastrous new Gap logo—with him or her as well as the Laird + Partners creative team. They not only talked themselves into embracing the infamous black-and-blue abomination rejected outright by their consumers but they must have pitched it successfully to their now battered and red-faced client.

Or was it the other way around? Were L+P creatives forced to cave to client demands? Anyone who has worked in advertising half as long as I have has heard the proverbial client complaint, "Make the logo bigger." But it’s clear that L+P had tamed any Gap demand for horsey logo size in their stunningly creative ad, in-store, and web work. If Gap had ever made such a demand.

So what happened? That’s what I want to know. I can’t conceive of a creative team with any sense of design pride handing over the new Gap logo. Where were the research and marketing people who know enough to collaborate with their customers? Could it be a public relations trick? A way to focus attention on the brand? Is any publicity really better than no publicity?

new gap logoHere’s what I do know: Gap changed its logo overnight, presumably without any—certainly without enough—consumer input. Consumers vehemently rejected the change. So did the design community. The most belittling reaction can and should be experienced at Crap Logo Yourself.

You just can’t get away with that kind of top-down decision making anymore, can you? In 5 Things the Gap Logo Flip-Flop Can Teach You About Branding, Jim Edwards of Adweek goes so far as to remind companies, “Consumers own brands, not management.”

In our marketing democracy, all top-down leaders eventually face the fate of national crowned heads, sovereigns, and tyrants. And most of them do it to themselves. Right after they lose touch with the source of their power, their consumers. Then, like Gap North America President Marka Hansen, they’re forced to tap dance backwards:

“Now, given the passionate outpouring from customers that followed, we’ve decided to engage in the dialogue, take their feedback on board and work together as we move ahead and evolve to the next phase of Gap.”

This is one dance you can avoid by making sure you give your customers a collaborative voice in their brand. Or as Gap has learned, ”work together... move ahead and evolve.”

logo for peter lloyd ala new gap logo is co-creator with Stephen Grossman of Animal Crackers, the breakthrough problem-solving tool designed to crack your toughest problems.
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