Gap’s attempt at “a more contemporary, modern expression” with the unexpected unveiling of a new logo last week didn’t quite work out for them.

Social media sites exploded with negative reactions and design critiques, and over 86% of users from a poll on The Huffington Post responded that the new logo was “terrible.” The social backlash went viral, including a parody Twitter account and a “Crap Logo” generator, and Gap quickly took to its Facebook page requesting user submissions.  The crowd sourcing method failed as well, and after less than a week Gap has reverted to its “old” logo, stating “Ok. We’ve heard loud and clear that you don’t like the new logo. We’ve learned a lot from the feedback. We only want what’s best for the brand and our customers. So instead of crowdsourcing, we’re bringing back the Blue Box tonight.”  As Gap North America president Marka Hansen explained, “It wasn’t the right project for crowd sourcing. In fact, all roads were leading us to the classic blue box.” A follow-up poll on The Huffington Post showed that 82% of users were happy that Gap went back to the original logo.

I’m still not quite sure what happened. Was it a publicity stunt or was it a genuine attempt to introduce a new logo to an established iconic brand? I am quite skeptical to say the least. The whole story certainly raised peoples attention and the amount of publicity it garnered surely brought Gap into a frenzied, social media inspired torrent of online conversation. It is remarkable how quickly Gap backtracked, changed their minds and reverted to the traditional logo that we all know. And then I find it more remarkable how quickly Gap brought out their crowd sourcing, competing logo project that for all intents and purposes is a cover for “spec work”. As a professional in the design field, this bothered me the most. I wonder what the chances are of Gap giving me and a host of online followers an outfit to see whether we like it or not. It was a shockingly bad designed logo, and I wonder just how much they did pay for it.

Isaac Ashworth, Art Director, Ashworth Creative

Ad Age and Ipsos Observer also polled over 1,000 consumers, with interesting results. According to that poll, only 17% were even aware that Gap had changed the logo.  Further, over 50% said they expect a company to ask for consumers’ input before making a major logo/packaging/product change, though 43% said their decision to purchase a company’s product would not be influenced by a logo change.  Still, it’s evident from this case (and others) that the consumer voice is a powerful one.