Posts Tagged 'Gap rebranding'

GAP Analysis Part 2 – or – The Little Square That Didn’t

This post contains documentary evidence of the Gap logo recall.

Exhibit #1:  Ad Age blames the whole thing on…me!  Wow, I was surprised!  But there it was, as you can see below.  Of course I had nothing to do with it at all.  Some people have pointed out that perhaps they meant something else by “the ringer”.

The scrapping of the design — which re-created the retailer’s name in a bold Helvetica font with a blue gradiated box perched atop the P — comes after Gap was put through the ringer last week for its new look. [Emphasis added]

Ad Age article on Gap Logo Recall

Exhibit #2:  The fake Twitter account capitulates, with a final shot at “crowd sourcing”

“…it’s ok, as i am just the GapLogo.  I’ll change to whatever corporate wants me to. Begrudgingly”

GapLogo fake Twitter account

Exhibit #3:  The real Gap Facebook posting.  Back to Square One:  Wedged between two denim posts is the acknowledgement that the old Gap is back.

Highlighting the influence of the designer community, Gap explicitly acknowledges the crowd sourcing issue:

So instead of crowd sourcing, we’re bringing back the Blue Box tonight.

Another important point to note — contrary to what AdAge reported, Gap did not blame “the ringer” for any of this mess.

Gap Logo Recall Announced on Facebook

Exhibit #4:  Marka Hansen, Gap’s president, posts on the Huffington Post her announcement of the Logo Recall.  This is the second time she’s addressed the issue through the Huffington Post.  Interesting to note that the Huffington Post is dated 7:35 pm — a full 7 minutes the before Facebook posting.

My hypothesis is that because Huffington Post is widely followed by journalists, it is a more effective communications platform to influence the media itself than traditional press releases or through Twitter or FaceBook.   It is a good example of how smart marketers can use the media to deliver their message directly instead of through the intermediary of a reporter or blogger.

Gap Logo Recall Announcement on HuffPo

Exhibit #5:  The traditional media is slow.  It is not until the next day that the New York Times posts the announcement of the Gap Logo Recall.  Even so, it is hard to shake the impression that this is the first time that most readers of the NYT are hearing that the Gap had even changed their logo in the first place.

Stuart Elliott weighs in on The Gap Recall

Exhibit #6: Instant Experts:  below is a chart from  research done for AdAge by Ipsos that raises questions about the market research methodology rather than shedding light on the Logo Recall issues at hand.  Ad Age commissioned Ipsos to do an overnight study among consumers on the matter.

There are unstated assumptions in the survey questions which need to be examined.  For instance, in the first reported questions the language is ambiguous to the point of pointless.  It assumes that the company and the product are under the same name and logo.  If P&G changed their logo, do you think it would effect the purchase of Tide?

The second item is vague — what is meant by “public input”?  Does that mean showing it to the whole world?  Or does it mean conducting some type of customer research?  There is also the assumption that Gap did not conduct any market research of their own.

The third item is revealing — 17% of people were aware that “the Gap Store” changed it’s logo.  It was a trick question, of course, since the logo was not changed on the store signage or advertising, only on the website.

Fourth, was the logo shown in context?  People see logos on products, on storefronts, on tv ads.  Rarely do they just see a logo sitting on a piece of paper or a computer screen with nothing else around it.  Our own experience as well as plenty of academic studies show that context is king.  Research on the logo alone, without context, is a poor predictor of actual in-market results.

Therefore, if the AdAge/Ipsos study showed the logo in context, then we can have greater confidence in their findings. If, as seems likely, they only showed the logos alone, then the findings are open to question.

Ad Age Study on Logo Recalls

Exhibit #7: The circle is completed as Armin at Brand New presents another Gap logo, this one for Gap Body Fit, along with their design critique.  Indeed it seems that there is a lot more to the whole Gap narrative than simply the Gap Logo Recall episode.

Just when you thought you had heard the last of Gap, we bring you… more Gap!

This time we get to see the new system, with products and labels and other applications.  And it opens up questions about the larger narrative of Gap.  How will it all play together?  How does the post-recall Gap logo fit with the new lines, the new products, the new strategy?  If presented in context with Gap Body Fit, the recalled Gap logo probably would have a completely different reception.

Gap Body Fit Logo

GapBodyFit Online

The GAP Analysis

What a week for the Gap branding!

The summary: A new logo was introduced on the Gap website on 10/6.  A firestorm swept through the design community blogs like Brand New and spread into the general media.  By Monday evening, 10/11, the new logo had been withdrawn and Gap executives were acknowledging their mis-reading of customer sentiment.

This being several days later, it is time for a sober assessment of the situation, what went wrong and what went right.

First, kudos to the executives at Gap for having an early warning system with a very sensitive radar.  They caught wind of the online comments within hours.

Second, senior Gap executives responded in the appropriate forums and quickly and in the name of senior executives. Marka Hansen was front and center with her response on the Huffington Post.  She also responded quickly to journalists blogging online about the situation.

Third, Gap did not jump out with a legalistic defense.  It was not a series of dense corporate-speak memo.  They stayed in the voice of the brand, not in the voice of an attorney.  They did not lash out at the critics.

Fourth, Gap was willing to take actions in the face of the outcry.  We can debate if it was the right action but they did respond and take concrete steps to address the situation in near record time.

Not to say that Gap’s handling of the situation was flawless.  The initial Facebook response fanned the flames among the design community.  By calling for everyone to submit their own ideas for the Gap logo – aka crowd sourcing – it hit an exposed nerve in the design world.  Crowd sourcing has been blamed for many of the troubles in the design industry.

Could better or different market research have prevented this problem?  I believe so.  Tropicana’s brand misfire showed us the flaws in typical focus groups and market research.  The Tropicana uproar came from the real world, from consumers who couldn’t find their beloved product anymore.  In my house the first reaction to the new packaging was, “why don’t we get Tropicana anymore?”

It would mean a whole new approach to market research to anticipate the Gap uproar — because the Gap uproar happened among a community that is not representative of core Gap consumers.  After all, who would expect Gap to test their logo among the design community?   And the design community is notorious for having strong opinions that don’t really influence anyone. Blogs have amplified the opinions of designers but haven’t really made them any more influential in almost all situations — except for this.

So, does this now mean open season on all new rebranding programs?  Or was it an outlier, a black swan?

I believe this is part of the new normal.  Every CMO from this point forward will be thinking of Gap and Tropicana as they consider their rebranding plans.

The risks of rebranding have just gotten higher.  The old way of marketing is leading to new troubles.

Branding needs to more flexible than ever before.

I believe that the Gap situation is one more reason why marketing needs to be reinvented for the reality of today’s digital world.  The traditional methods of branding, the traditional tools of market research — they have lost their effectiveness and need to be replaced.


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