Gap has changed its logo and this has created an avalanche of critique on the new logo. Some love it, some hate it while the fact remains that a lot of them are not even aware of the brand (let alone the logo change). One would wonder "why care about those who are not aware of the brand or the logo change?" Well, it is those who are not adopting the brand that decide the success/failure of the brand in the times to come.
Having existed for decades, Gap definitely has a cemented brand image. Unlike the millions of brands that use complicated graphic designs (comparatively), Gap held on to what may be called as one of the simplest word-marks ever used for branding. In my opinion it added value to the premium aspect of the brand. Simple, bold word-mark that has captivated millions of ardent style-chasers around the world, held onto a strong attitude factor that defined the concept of style for the Gap brand-lovers worldwide. The logo was consistent with the sense of style sophistication the Gap customers always associated themselves to.
With sibling brands Banana Republic and Old Navy, Gap had covered every corner of its target demographic of 13-45 years, spreading the customer pool over the three brands without any room for brutal cannibalization. Be it the young teenager, college student, young working adult or middle-aged professionals, Gap has an array of apparel to choose from for each group. Although Old Navy would stand for the cheapest of Gap products, it does hold a sophistication in terms of positioning, for it targets the brand-fanatics who like to have their style statement defined more economically.
Evolution is something that the business world is always going through and every business is required to evolve with the business world. While most businesses adopt the "follow-the-crowd" evolution tactic, looking for the appropriate time to switch to the standardized and currently accepted practices, there are these companies that create the standards for the rest of the market to follow suit. These are the brave market leaders, those who dare to go out, do what they feel is right and try to capitalize on their strengths. These companies are usually the first ones to evolve and in fact mark the beginning and end of a generation for that industry. Gap is definitely one of those market leaders. I believe this logo change is just another brave step that Gap has taken to proceed with its evolution into the next generation of the apparel industry.
There may be a truck-load of reasons for Gap to come up with a new logo, ranging from changes in the senior management to curing symptoms such as stagnated sales. Irrespective of why the new logo has to be introduced, it is an obvious challenge for Gap to preserve the brand image it has held all these years and further captivate new customers. Gap's new logo, a generic word-mark, with letters in both cases and the symbolic blue box as an accessory, in my view, is definitely new but not quite consistent with the old Gap logo. The attitude element of the old logo rested on the actual "gap" between the letters and the "bold" typography. The new logo is lacking these two basic elements which I believe is the distinct changes that Gap has made. The blue-box of the old logo is included in the new one but not as the whole base-block but as an accessory to the word-mark which although makes sense for the existence but does not serve the purpose of the undertone of the brand image it previously provided.
Gap has courageously taken the step towards the next generation but will the new logo provide the desired evolution while preserving the brand image in the customers' minds is something that is yet to be noticed. Another question that comes to my mind is will this change affect the sibling brands of Gap or is this just the beginning of a complete makeover of the entire brand family? History has it that all the big brands faced this challenge every time they tried a makeover to their brand logo. Gap is going through the uncertainty phase but rather strongly since the company is considering opinions of its customers worldwide. Being an MBA student myself, I have all the appreciation for the brave and creative move that Gap has taken towards evolution into the next generation. Here are my suggestions on possible Gap logos:
Having pondered over the tip of the iceberg here with the Gap logo, I would like to point out a rather strange coincidence. My high school buddy worked as the merchandiser for Gap apparel in a company that manufactured Gap products and that company is about 2 miles from my home in Chennai, India!!!!!
I know people who have decided what Gap designs would hit the market all over the globe. Next time you think about style & brands, keep this in mind that perception is reality and the best designs may come from any corner of the globe irrespective of which country the company is headquartered at.
All the best Gap!!!
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