10 thoughts on “6 branding lessons from the Gap logo farce

  1. Marcus,

    Great post. I’d like to add something.

    Wether they realize it or not, consumers see a change in brand identity as a direct reflection of a change in brand strategy. In the case of the Gap, the company failed to communicate any change other than the logo itself. They failed to tell the story behind the new identity and then failed to stand behind it. This told the world that the new identity was nothing more than a facade.

    The new logo was far from an evolution. It was a significant change, one that appeared to be better suited to IT consulting rather than a fashion retailer. People took notice because the brand signal was “off brand.” A logo is a brand signal. It carries and conveys meaning. In this case, that meaning was a disconnection with consumers.


    Mark Gallagher
    Brand Expressionist®


  2. Like many companies, the Gap mistook their advertising for their identity and their identity for their brand. As a result, they will soon join Tropicana in an elite fraternity of brands that didn’t quite get it.

    The Gap simply doesn’t understand how brand signals work.

    Brand signals carry and convey meaning. The new gap logo didn’t convey anything other than being “off brand.” A change in brand identity should be proportional to a change in strategy.

    Consumers quickly see through the facade of change for change sake. This is where the Gap fell short.

    Great post Marcus!

    Mark Gallagher
    Brand Expressionist®


  3. Marcus;

    “Some industry insiders say the company panicked and thought a quick makeover of the logo, if received positively, could raise the profile of the brand and improve sales.”

    The notion that people will buy to GAP’s product just because the company changed its logo is beyond comprehension. I mean, I won’t buy a t-shirt or a pair of jeans just because the logo – but rather because the jeans’ cut fits me well, or for the t-shirt, its color or the decal.

    For a clothing company, if you design a whole range of collection, or use a different material (instead of cotton, use silk or cashmere; for example), or put licensed image on it, than perhaps, it could make a difference.

    Funny thoughts. Funny thoughts.


  4. Marcus,

    Just a little thought from the incident, it’s interesting that how the consumers have paid closed attention to a brand’s graphical appearance and react so strongly to it.

    As far as I could recall, most Asians(or it’s just Malaysians?) wouldn’t really care if the brand change their logo, tagline etc. It’s always the promotion, discount etc. that would be related directly to the brand. In most cases, not even creative campaign could be related directly to the brand by consumers.


    1. Hi Chuan Choong

      Thanks for your comments.

      Much of the negative reaction has come from the west and not Asia. Why is that?

      Perhaps it is because in Asia consumers aren’t so attached to brands? Perhaps because Asian firms are yet to understand the importance of brands and therefore haven’t invested enough in building the relationships required to generate such feelings? Especially in the retail sector where few brands have the heritage of GAP.


  5. The new logo was totally lame. I can’t believe it made it as far as it did. It is banal, boring and badly done. The post-modernist (?!) reference the Gap blue box as the sad blue rectangle behind the name — dull.

    But more importantly, why, pray tell, is a new logo needed, exactly?

    What about the current market research suggested a new logo would sell yet more poorly/cheaply made-in-China clothing/ badly fashion-forward that may barely last a season and yet be more expensive than H&M?

    Alienating any consumer older than, seemingly, about 17.5, in the very short life cycle of its product lines, with its ever shortening of shirt lengths combined with lowering of pant waists?

    Did anyone at GAP ever bother to acknowledge that this is really not a good look for the ever growing (and double meaning intended) U.S. (and sadly international too) population?

    And so then new logo resulting in a whole bunch of tossing of the old (store signage, labels, etc.) with little thought to the environmental impact of same? On top of the cheaply produced products that are made in the lowest cost production countries, and all that that entails.

    This is bad strategy and thinking. That logo is of value — incredible value. That current management, being paid, how much?!, reflects much of what is wrong with society today.


    1. Wow! Don’t hold back! But I have to agree with you, on all your points. It was a strategic and tactical disaster. Poorly researched, poorly thought through and terribly executed – although the recovery has been good. Once again, a result of creativity creating brand tactics and not data driving brand strategy.


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