Responding to customer complaints, Gap ditches new logo

Brett Michael Dykes

In the annals of corporate rebranding, an argument could be made that Gap's recent ill-fated efforts may actually rank right up there with New Coke. But then again, New Coke stuck around for a month or so before being banished to the dustbin of marketing history, whereas Gap's logo redesign barely lasted a week.

Yes, after an "outpouring of comments" via an Internet crowd-sourcing project, Gap's corporate brass has decided to revert back to its familiar brand identity: a blue box with the word "GAP" written inside of it -- the logo that's served the clothing concern for the past 20 years. The newer logo, pictured, featured the word "Gap" in black letters against a white background, with a little blue square partly behind the P.

Yes, apparently there are people out there who are that exercised over the Gap's marketing efforts.

"We've been listening to and watching all of the comments this past week," Gap Brand North America President Marka Hansen said in a statement. "We heard them say over and over again they are passionate about our blue box logo, and they want it back. So we've made the decision to do just that -- we will bring it back across all channels."

[Related: Seven marketing ideas so bad, they became famous]

The Gap logo flap brings to mind a few other recent rebranding ploys that only succeeded in unleashing a fire hose of ridicule on their perpetrators. Included among them: Drake University's "D+" recruitment campaign. Then there was the Barbie-like makeover of the Sunmaid raisin girl. And a logo redesign by the Seattle's Best coffeeshop chain sparked the passions of customers who felt the new logo was painfully generic.

However, some industry watchers think that Gap may have never been all that serious about a new logo and that the whole thing was nothing more than a clever scheme for some free publicity.

"Perhaps this about-face — and not the now-ditched crowdsourcing idea — is what Gap had planned from the beginning," writes AdFreak's Tim Nudd. "You know — get people to talk about you for a week, admit your 'mistake' (in essence, underestimating how much people love you), and have the last laugh by appearing to listen to your customers and then giving them their precious logo back — a logo they never even knew they loved."

Even if the Gap's branding strategy may not have been quite this cynical, there's plenty food for thought here the next time American consumers find themselves stalwartly defending the integrity of a reverse-type brand name inside a blue box.