Branding, design and social communities have been alive with chatter about Gap this week following the US clothing retailer’s move to change its logo. The move attracted heavy criticism and resulted in a U-turn from Gap HQ.
Gap has been accused of throwing away its brand heritage and its iconic logo for something that resembles a faceless tech company – not a bad logo, but something of a non-entity.
However, it has got the brand in the headlines and in people’s minds, somewhere I don’t think it’s been for a long time
I have to admit I’m completely apathetic towards Gap.
Gap is a strong brand, I recognise it and I think I know what it stands for but I’m wholly unexcited about it and that has nothing to do with its logo.
I don’t think I’ve stepped into a Gap store in over a decade because I (rightly or wrongly) associate it with beige, non-descript clothing at prices that are a little high for what its offering.
Compare this to the excitement other high street clothing brands garner and you start to understand what it is Gap is missing.
Take fellow American fashion export Hollister, the Abercrombie & Fitch sister brand, for example. At the Westfield centre in West London a few weekends ago, there was a line of at least 50 people snaking out from Hollister’s doors as shoppers queued to get into the store.
It helps that Hollister builds its stores to resemble a Californian beach house and I’m not personally a fan, it’s hard to deny the excitement and strength a brand has if people are willing to queue just to get through the door.
I cant imagine a similar scene outside a Gap store.
It’s clearly not the brand identity Gap needs to work on, because this branding exercise invites the old adage that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it so what Gap should really be looking at is livening up its products, its stores and its relationships with customers.
Despite being a pretty boring logo itself, the old Gap logo clearly resonates with consumers so why would Gap want to change it?
It shows some warped thinking at the top of the organisation if they aren’t aware of the power that the “blue box’ wields on the public.
But look at it another way and maybe Gap achieved exactly what it wanted with this initiative.
Did Gap really ever fully intend to change its logo?
The new identity appeared on the company’s website overnight with no fanfare, and Gap didn’t announce any great plans or strategy so it doesn’t take a giant leap to suggest that maybe all this is part of a stunt to drive conversations, get people talking about the brand and demonstrate that Gap can, and will change as quickly as the consumer demands?
It wasn’t many months ago that Pizza Hut launched an advertising campaign claiming to have changed the name above its restaurant doors to Pasta Hut, only to later reveal it was a temporary trial initiative and essentially played out like a PR stunt.
Ill-conceived though it was, it got people talking about the brand and raised awareness of its new menu.
I’m not saying it’s a great strategy but the “fake rebranding” strategy does certainly get tongues wagging. What remains to be seen is if Gap can survive the fallout and make it through with credibility intact.
These contradictory lines of thought demonstrate that there are pros and cons of the turmoil Gap has faced this week. At the very least Gap has learnt an important lesson about its brand and its relationship with consumers that hopefully other brands can take on board.