Typical. I do my best to try and read around a subject and consider my own opinions before blogging anything. I think I may be a bit of a dinosaur. In contrast to Andrew Marr, who last week lambasted bloggers for being…
socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed, young men sitting in their mother’s basements and ranting … very angry people.
…I believe that it is a good idea to be informed about my subjects before committing my ‘reckons’ to print. But in this case, it appears that a few days is a long time in marketing.
Last week, Gap uneviled a new logo, and it, er, didn’t go very well.
On Gap’s Facebook page and elsewhere this quickly became a source of dismay and ridicule, not least in our office. The ‘Before’ and ‘After’ were pinned to the noticeboard. My favourite comment was…
Brief received: Friday 17.18
Project complete: Friday 17:24
Almost at once the conspiracy theorists were considering whether it was all a scam (like Heinz announcing it would withdraw salad cream?), or a stunt to encourage designers to submit their own ideas; which, of course, didn’t go down too well with that professional community…
And then, just a few days later, Gap (humiliated by the speed and vitriol of its online fans) backed down.
So what can I add to this sorry tale that has already come and gone..?
Only my humble reckon based on 18 years of working in marketing for and with both multinational clients and creative agencies. Gap almost certainly didn’t unveil this logo lightly. There was probably any number of rounds of research with all sorts of stakeholder audiences. I’m sure they had their own reasons why they needed to ‘update’ their iconic logo in the first place; maybe they thought that Facebook now ‘owns’ the Blue Box?! They probably spent a small fortune in design agency fees and focus groups.
Gap isn’t the first company or brand to fall foul of public opinion. Only a few months ago the PepsiCo-owned Tropicana brand went as far as launching a complete range of new pack designs, before withdrawing them a few weeks later. This was far more expensive in that the design had been translated into actual packaging.
The problem is that design can be hugely subjective; and some opinions are evidently more important than others. Way back in 1997 British Airways wanted to be The World’s Favourite Airline. It launched a whole suite of new tail-fin liveries for its fleet of aircraft with great fanfare, moving away from its traditional roots. However, this massively expensive marketing strategy was rent asunder in a few brief minutes by ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who not only publicly expressed her displeasure, but went still further…
This was all over the media for days, and brought the designs to the attentions of the British tabloid press, who seized it like a hungry hound and didn’t let go. From the outset BA was under pressure, and scaled back its ambitions. Before the instant feedback loops of Twitter and Facebook it struggled on, but ultimately climbed down after 4 long years and as much as £60m of costs.
Compared to that, Gap got off lightly.