15 October 2010

The New Gap Logo

So Gap has . . . well, had a new logo. For about a week. In case you missed it in the news:

Public flogging has rarely been so entertaining. The new logo appeared on Oct. 4, and the instantaneous and universal mockery of it probably had the designers cleaning out their desks that same day. It would take a dissertation to map the full dimensions of the response.

The site craplogo.me went up straight away, turning whatever text you like into a version of the new logo. A faux Twitter account was created for the logo to explain itself ("The blue square is a scratch-n-sniff"). Eloquent descriptions of its utter failure flooded design and advertising sites. "[It's like] that awkward cap-sleeved tee with the rhinestone letters you find while thrift shopping that’s neither vintage nor new, but definitely not cool.” [1] An interview with the new logo probed its feelings: "The only way to deal with the pain is comfort eating. Pretty soon I'll be type set in Helvetica Neue Black." [2] Deconstructions of the public outcry are appearing. [3] Vanity Fair posted an obit: "The logo passed after a brief and ignominious battle with stage IV banality." [4]

I agree that the design totally blows. With the typeface they chose (Helvetica 75 Bold), placed next to a blue superset window, it reminds me of the the startup screen for Windows XP. I've lost many hours staring at that screen, and I hate it. Anyway, there is nothing interesting about the new logo. It looks undesigned. The blog iso50 has a thread with over 300 user-submitted designs. Subtracting a few that are intended purely as comic, almost every one is better than the new logo. And these were just tossed out.

What went wrong? The amount spent on the redesign was probably staggering. Perhaps millions. That was certainly the heart of the problem. There was no room in this for individual creativity and genius. It was thoroughly a committee product. And some senior decider, a non-designer, was probably really fond of that Windows XP logo. Probably Gap NA president Marka Hansen. [5] I guarantee that person still has their job. The suits never take the fall.

The passion of the public outcry shows what ownership the public feels for corporate branding. We are a consumer society. We co-opt corporate identity as our own identity. If I wear Gap chinos, that logo is my logo, too. And the chino-wearing public has spoken: Hands off my logo.

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