Gap Redesigns Logo ... But Why?
by Erik Hayden
Some clothing companies adapt well to changing times, and Gap seemed to be one of those venerable brands. Apparently not. With little fanfare, the company decided to redesign its logo and post it on its website. Not too long after, waves of criticism from design firms, mainstream publications and just-plain bewildered bloggers started rolling in. The company, which has apparently heard the cries of outrage, turned the redesign into a crowd-sourcing exercise on its Facebook page. No word yet on whether that was the official plan all along, or if it was just a knee-jerk reaction to all the bad press.
• Looks Like it Cost $17 From an Old Microsoft Word Clipart Gallery notes Abe Sauer at Brandchannel, who deemed it a "monstrosity." The writer explains: It "demonstrates a prototypical brand panic move. With things not going in its favor, the brand decides to change the one valuable element it has going for it."
• Makes Old Navy 'Look Like a Luxury Brand scoffs Armin Vit at Brand New: "The shaded square on the corner doesn't help at all either — I'm not one to critique something by saying it looks as if it were done in Microsoft Word but this one is just too unsophisticated to warrant anything more than that."
• This Doesn't Make Any Sense writes David Brier at Fast Company. "It's all a cosmetic band-aid which is so unbelievable for a brand as big and 'mature' as Gap. I'll be surprised if a few people won't lose their jobs as this is basic Branding 101."
• Gap Sales Are Declining Anyway dismisses Jim Edwards at BNet. "There's a clue to what might have triggered the misstep in the fact that same-store sales at Gap are down 4 percent. ... Brand managers need to resist that temptation when they see revenues decline. There are lots of reasons sales might be down — the recession, lack of discounts, off-trend product — and not all of those respond to a new trade dress."
• Everybody Hates The Logo...Except Us Time Newsfeed writer Nate Jones goes out on a limb saying that he "personally does not mind Helvetica, and so this new logo brings to mind visions of a streamlined, technologically dominant future America where everyone wears white suits and cool glasses. Sure, it's generic, but don't you know that in the future everything looks alike?"
Neuroscience study analyzes Gap logo disaster
from an Australian Marketing Magazine
Neuroscience market research company NeuroFocus claims to have discovered the reasoning for the consumer backlash to the short-lived Gap logo. In a paper released today, NeuroFocus says the new logo failed to resonate with consumers on key metrics like attention, emotional engagement and memory retention. Using brainwave activity measurements, NeuroFocus concluded that the new logo did not score impressive reactions for 'novelty' (something new and different) and 'style' attributes from the sample.
"Our counsel to companies is: when there is a redesign of a brand, an identity, a logo, a proposition, a tagline, a package or a product feature, such a design must deliver a scientifically significant and substantive change in the novelty metric," said Dr. A. K. Pradeep, chief executive officer of NeuroFocus. "In this instance, Gap's new logo failed to do that. Our recommendation would have been: without a significant increase in novelty, this redesign will not succeed." Pradeep says Gap also lost "critical ground at the deep subconscious level" for style.
"For a retail apparel marketer seeking to reach and motivate their target audience, this loss of brand value in the 'stylish' category marks a major cause for concern." NeuroFocus also recognised that the new design violated six basic neurological best practices. Dr. A.K. Pradeep evaluated the new Gap logo against best practices...
— Overlays equal overlooked: Neuroscience research reveals that when words overlay images, the brain tends to ignore or overlook the word in favor of focusing on the image. "In the new logo, the 'p' superimposed over the blue square is essentially bypassed by the brain; the brain tends to ignore the word in favor of the image," Pradeep says. "Not a good thing when that's your brand name."
— Sharp edges unsettle the subconscious: "Forcing the brain to view a sharply-angled box behind the letter 'p' provokes what neuroscience calls an 'avoidance response'. The hard line cuts into the rounded shape of the letter. We are hard-wired to avoid sharp edges — in nature, they can present a threat. Our so-called modern brains are actually 100,000 years old, and they retain this primordial reaction."
— Interesting fonts work: Neuroscience research has shown that the subconscious prefers fonts that are a little unusual. Gap's original typeface was just different enough that it tended to stand out to the brain amidst the clutter of other corporate IDs.
— High/low contrast: "The original logo presented the brand name in sharp, strong contrast — white letters 'pop' against the blue background, and the brain loves pop-outs," Pradeep says. "Conversely, the new logo has the 'p' losing that contrast against the blue box. Again, the brain simply tends not to register the letter well as a result."
— Stronger semantic content: "In the new version, the capitalized 'G' followed by the lower case 'a' and 'p' cause the brain to read the three letters as part of a word, and therefore seek semantic content. In the original execution, all three letters are capitalized, making them more logo-like than word-like, which is what you want for a logo," and
— Lost legacy: "The Gap sells a lot more than just blue jeans today, but relegating the blue of the original logo to minor 'legacy' status in the new version loses that essential connection in the consumer's subconscious to the brand's core origins. We always emphasize to companies: depict your source. When it comes to products, the brain seeks to know from whence you came. Instead of honoring their past, unfortunately the Gap relegated that past to lower relevance."