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GAP Clothing Opens Public Design Contest after New Logo Fails

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by hearit

hearit's picture
In The News

GAP’s having a mid-life crisis. The clothing retailer seems to have lost its identity--if you’ve got an extra, or find one laying around, GAP’s willing to pay you a whopping five hundred dollars to ‘donate’ it. This is round two: GAP already paid a designer, but that’s not quite working out—yeah, the logo really is that bad. And, yes, it does include Helvetica.
You have to think things are bad when your paid ad agency designs you a new logo, yet you revert to using the old one. You have to know things are bad when you’re now considering a design contest open to the “Average Joe”, throwing your money away twice—or actually, maybe more like once. The GAP logo design winner’s only looking at a cool five hundred.
The new logo that’s been designed for GAP isn’t being quite so well-received. Bill Chandler, VP of corporate communications at GAP, (kind of, sort of) admits the new design might not be the perfect fit. Or, maybe less than the perfect fit. Or, maybe it really sucks. He doesn’t seem to clear on that issue. For anyone viewing the new logo--yes, take a look now (and, no, this is not a joke)--the issue is more than clear.
"We love the [new GAP logo] design, but we're open to other ideas and we want to move forward with the best logo possible," Chandler says.
So you’ve got a new logo but you’re still using the old…hmmm, that seems to indicate an issue.
Chandler confirmed from the GAP’s Facebook page, an while using the old GAP logo as their avatar, an announcement that the new logo will be part of a crowdsourcing project. Basically, if the world’s got a better idea, he’s willing to consider it—and, yeah, it really is that bad.  These types of issues typically involve the concept of what’s known as “shopping” for a new agency—but apparently Chandler’s “crowdsourcing” method chalks things up to “it couldn’t be worse” and “hell, it’s (next to) free” mentality.
You, yes you, can create a better logo—or that’s the idea anyway. Desperate times…and all that.
The logo itself was not a PR stunt, Chandler says.
In a big ouch: the new logo was designed by Trey Laird and his firm Laird and Partners,  have served as Gap's creative directors for years—what appears to be so many years that the creativity seeped right on out.
While Chandler stresses that GAP stands by the logo they've created, supposedly the company also wants to signify that the company itself is changing--and that should come with “input” from consumers.
"GAP has been evolving for the past year," says the company's Chandler. The VP of communications is mum on the subject of what was occurring during those other 19 out of 20 years. And, after viewing the new logo, consider the ‘fit’ or lack of further: the GAP target customer is a 28-year-old ‘millenial’, supposedly attracted to popular brands like the company’s 1969 denim.
Apparently all the “evolving” somehow signaled a change where GAP feels the logo should be thrown out with the bathwater also. “The next natural step was the logo -- which has been around for more than 20 years -- how it would evolve."
Of course, the next ‘natural’ step—go ahead and switch up that logo that defines how people have become familiar with the company and identify it after 20 years: someone better give the likes of Nike, Coca-Cola and IBM a heads-up, because they’re obviously far behind the times.
Apparently the new GAP logo was debuted "without much fanfare", says Chandler. GAP,  a heads-up on 'creativity': Helvetica is among the most widely-used fonts throughout the world. It seems the GAP’s been going ‘crazy’ while no one was looking--already incorporating Helvetica into the company’s advertising and some of its retail stores during the past year.
It's also not a stab at going retro, claims Chandler. Yeah, well, it’s not quite looking like a ‘stab’ at anything—though the logo is a bit stabbing.  "We believe this [new logo] is a more contemporary, modern expression," GAPS VP of communications says.
"The only nod to the past is that there's still a blue box, but it looks forward," says the VP of communications (that’s right, communications). "Forward"? Maybe if you’re Pantone. 
GAP plans (kinda, sorta—it’s hard to know yet) to supposedly throw that new logo into its holiday ad campaign. The VP of corporate communications says the logo’s also slated to be part of a “larger 2011 rebranding”. "But before the launch goes any further we're going to see what other ideas are out there."
Hey, that’s the way to really commit, and display a show of passion for that logo you’re sure is so “forward”—say ‘we love it’ and it’s slated for our near future, but in the meantime we’re just going to glance around a bit.
"We're very close to our [GAP] customers and we listen to what they say every day," Chandler says, adding that that interaction with GAP’s audience is an important part of its brand. The gist: customers think that “forward” new logo you’re describing sucks, big-time.
On a separate issue concerning branding, consider this an open letter:
Dear GAP, since about half of America seems to know you by those ‘clever’ little commercials that include a “Fall into the GAP” tagline, it’s usually best to secure that name on Facebook as well. Any customers looking for ‘The GAP” rather than solely “GAP” can however enjoy the near-porn atmosphere found on the Facebook Fan pages of the former. Oh, GAP, you’ve got more issues going on than tackling the concept of designing and instituting an entirely new logo—you do seem to be succeeding, however, in confusing customers more and more.
"We've seen the conversations out there, and we know that our brand is something people care about. We want to tap into that community," says the VP.
Tap, tap, tap away. Out with the old and in with the …well, that part’s still a little unclear--to all involved.
Chandler’s statement includes “we're [GAP] thrilled about the energy and passion that customers have shown. We want to collaborate with them." Yeah, collaborate or suck them dry: for a mere $500 prize, every designer is now eligible to be raped by corporate America.
Yes, that does head into the annals which include the story of how Nike’s infamous $35 logo design was created. Ah, but that was three decades ago--before anyone knew better.
If, however, you feel inspired, be sure to check out the enthralling “Helvetica” movie that captured the nation just two short years ago (link to that 'hit's' trailer is attached).
Yes, "Helvetica" really is all about the font--and does actually open with the intriguing question, “What did Helvetica tell you today?”—apparently it told Laird & Laird a lot. But ssshhhhh…it’s a secret.

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