Gap is the Biggest Wussy on Earth

So we all saw the new Gap logo. It looked weird. It looked wrong. It looked like all sorts of other unbecoming words that were broadcast over Twitter and Facebook within hours of its unveiling.

Then, in what is going to be (or should be) remembered as the biggest corporate branding fail of the last decade, Gap caved in to all the little whiny Tweeters and defensively pulled its shiny, new logo.

Anyone who thinks that move was rational – that pulling the new logo was the best thing Gap could have done in the situation – is somewhere between equally ball-less and an idiot.

No, it was the worst thing Gap could have done in the situation. I’ve read a few posters who think the whole thing was an intentional rouse to gain attention. Far fetched. There are better ways of gaining attention than intentionally making your company look like a bunch of bumbling idiots. That’s not it.

I’m sure Gap thinks they were “using the medium intelligently to respond to consumer opinion” or something one might read in a Forrester report on social marketing. But really they are just pussies.

The fact is, any time you launch a logo redesign you have some people who complain. The new logo always “feels weird”. It feels weird because it’s different. Like the…

mirror image of a photograph which never feels “better” than the original orientation – until you get used to the novel nature of it.

Critics crawled out of the woodwork – and the internet lets their short-term opinions sound big. But a company has to differentiate between that kind of blip, and the long-term strategic reasoning behind their decisions.

The truth is – all those whiners would have gotten used to the new logo. And they would have come to associate it positively with the brand, so long as Gap continued to invest in it and in their creative marketing efforts as they have done.

When the iPad was announced by Apple – the whole world spent 2 weeks laughing at it and making comparisons to tampons. It was ridiculed. SNL did skits about it. People made YouTube videos roasting it. It was the laughing stock.

Who’s laughing now?

Apple had the balls to commit (this kind of thing really doesn’t take much in the way of balls – just the basics – which is why Gap is such a colossal wuss). And iPad’s critical consumer responses naturally waned, like all these things do. This wasn’t an oil spill for christ sake, it was a brand.

You know, I hate to say it now – but I sort of liked the new logo. I mean it was Helvetica, sure. One might argue that seems old. But so are 5 dozen other logos that use it quite well. And Gap, maybe even uniquely, has the minimalist heritage to have owned the execution. The black and white was refreshing.

So the little blue square was sort of lame at first glance – but who knows how it all would have manifested across other products and marketing devices over time. Guaranteed, Gap, the nay-sayers would have wound down, and a new crop of less outspoken advocates would have embraced the new logo quite well.

You just had to have the very slightest teensy little balls a company can have.

Instead you have displayed yourself to the world as an utter corporate whip. You’ve done more damage to your brand equity by pulling the new logo, than the blip of negativity that naturally comes with anything new.

Now I don’t give a crap how “tough” or cool your models are styled to look.

Now we all know – Gap is just a self-conscious little wuss.

4 Comments Gap is the Biggest Wussy on Earth

  1. Aaron Kato

    This is a really unique way to think about the new Gap logo. The name you call it is also really apt idea, the biggest wussy on earth πŸ™‚ I don’t know if I could get used to this box-with-a-gradient?!?!?!?! in the logo some day but the thing is, that basically the weirdest, stupidest, most outrageous things have set a new wave ever. Probably this is just a step towards a new exaggerated pink fluffy brand, probably it is one of the smartest brand decisions nowadays. As you told me previously people will be really upset and disappointed when they will change this logo after a few years. πŸ™‚

  2. Guess who

    Hi J!

    I’ve read this while picturing you talking to me. Haha. This was an awesome lecture. Totally agreed.

    A good logo always looks intentional. That crap didn’t look like it was built on purpose. It looked accidental.

    Nevertheless… Sometimes accidents can be happy, like Oceanic 815.

    This looked like an unhappy accident, something somebody came across when digging through their limited font collection and said “this looks cool, I guess.”

    GAP’s in-house team… gah. They must suck, ergo, they did this crap.

    Nobody has come out to say they did the logo, but my impression is that it was probably an in-house team. Why do I believe this? Very few in-house design teams are SO AWESOME as ours.

    Greetings from riceland. πŸ˜€

  3. ocube

    While there may have been some merit in sticking it out on a matter of principle, there was little merit in the logo itself so I guess they chose the best of two evils. I for one applaud their brave decision to pull a really poor, uncooked design or maybe I should chide them for revealing it in the first place!

  4. Xtian

    I totally agree, and am encouraged to read months after this happened (it *still* bothers me) that I’m not the only one who thought people were behaving completely ridiculously. I was very disappointed Gap Inc. didn’t stand its ground and defend the new logo, which I happened to like.

    Frankly, this is part of a larger problem I find extremely irritating on several levels – the brands of today that produce the products we consume, be they home goods, electronics, television programs, clothing, what have you, are always going to be about mass appeal. Sadly, the masses of the U.S. (and arguably certain other developed countries, I suppose) are blithering idiots, whiners, big spoiled babies who aren’t intelligent or sophisticated enough to appreciate change and therefore throw fits about it. These folk are slaves to reality television shows like The Real Housewives of ________, American Idol, and iPhones. Yup, I said it. I used to own one, so I can. They refuse to notice there are other products out there which are actually superior or more sophisticated – no, they have little patience for technicalities like that. “Do my friends have it/wear it/watch it?” they whine, and that’s all that matters to them.

    Consequently, this is *why* Gap caved – because (although I would have respected them for defending their investment in their new logo) they ultimately had no choice, knowing if they alienate a big chunk of their customers they’ll get hurt where it counts, the bottom line.

    Those of us with taste, who aren’t carbon-copies of our friends and family and neighbors, blindly consuming what everyone else sports just so we can keep up with the Joneses, are forever punished for such distinction by having to choose from fewer and fewer options for us out there. Eventually, we too will have to climb on board, kicking and screaming, with the rest of those riding the ‘Me Too!’ train because there just won’t be any other options to purchase. That’s the cold, cruel reality, and it frustrates me deeply.

    P.S. Joel, I LOVE your ringtones. =) Which, I have to point out, I don’t use on my iPhone because it sits deactivated in a drawer – I moved on (and up) to a Droid Incredible. πŸ˜‰

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