The Gap Logo Fiasco: Corporate Identity in the Age of Social Media
In case you didn’t know already last Wednesday Oct. 6th, Gap introduced a new logo (seen above) to replace the classic design. Reaction was almost universally negative to the new creation, many actually calling it a piece of %!$@#, and yes you can pretty much sum up everyone’s opinion right there.
For a while pundits in the press and PR community thought maybe this was genius, to introduce a horrible logo on purpose, get free press from the reaction, and then crowd source a replacement. But it didn’t work like that at all for Gap. In fact, Gap had actually paid good money for that ugly looking logo, and their online store was brave enough to use it. Free press quickly became a PR crisis with hundreds, thousands of people ridiculing their brand all over the Internet!
Why did this happen so fast? Because in the social media universe we live on today, a big part of the press is regular people, not journalists. Regular people who in their very opinionated way influence public opinion from their Twitter feed, Facebook page, Blog or wherever they can express themselves socially.
The consequence of this active public engagement in the creation, and editorializing of news is huge. Instead of the usual cycle from news, to press, to public opinion; we now go from news to public opinion! The press and the people have somehow merged into “influencers” and the time it takes for a story to go from news to public opinion has been shortened drastically.
The end result is that if “buzz” on Twitter, Facebook, and Blogs already say that your new logo sucks, it probably does! And the worse part is that this is not the press talking, this is public opinion already! In a matter of days, your brand can sustain a big hit.
So what can companies, agencies and social media professionals learn from Gap’s mistakes:
- 1. Focus Groups and Surveys can’t Ignore Social Media Any More. I am sure Gap paid good money to test their new logo, but I am also quite sure they ignored Social Media almost completely. Result: failure.
- 2. Brands and Companies must listen to Social Media and React Fast. Gap is actually a good example, they did not wait a month to react, in 6 days, meaning today they scrapped the new logo! They got 2000 very negative comments on their Facebook fan page, and that plus the Internet backlash helped them correct course. However, if they had properly listened to the conversation they could have done it much faster, probably in 2 days flat, or even better they could have avoided all this issue completely if they had tested it with Social Media influencers first.
- 3. Don’t Underestimate your customers. We live in a world of savvy customers, let us treat them with respect and they will continue to give us business. The golden rule still holds on the Internet age.