Gap Drastically Changed Their Logo - Will This Change Their Entire Brand?


gap new logo before and after comparison

We at STARMEN are not ones to jump on 'bandwagons', whether the subject matter is politics, celebrity gossip, sports, or business. However, we're all aboard the latest bandwagon traveling along Gap's tracks to logo disaster. Gap’s new logo and branding campaign have widely been referred to as the “Gapgate controversy,” a questionable attempt at designing a new logo, and an even more tasteless approach at trying to market it. There has been way too much recent attention around the new Gap logo, and as a result, we've decided to come up with our own visual ‘solution.’

Gap has been successful at engaging and sustaining a loyal audience by constantly staying fresh in all aspects of its brand (fashion, marketing, advertising, etc.). Unfortunately, Gap’s revenue and image have waned. Sales at GAP stores (including Old Navy and Banana Republic) have been declining (-8% in 2009), but blaming the economy would be missing the mark entirely.  Gap’s problem is not its logo; it is its brand.

A Brand Panic Move

One of our favorite mottos is “Your logo is not your brand.” This is a message that we communicate to our clients frequently. Gap did not follow this philosophy, rolling out its new logo last week, which appeared to be more of a panic-driven move than a strategized one, as no real design thinking was evident. Some chalk this sudden change up as a response to declining sales, but as Abe Sauer from Brandchannel states, “the Gap brand decided to change the one valuable element it has going for it.” Customers seeing this new change just don't appear to be feeling it. This is a typical mistake most high-profile brands make in an effort to create a valuable 'change.’ Just ask Pepsi how they feel about the whole Tropicana mess. With very notable brands, a complete brand identity redesign or even just a change to the logo can be the hardest task for any design firm. Laird + Partners has done some great work for Gap in past years, but not this time. 

Louise Callagy, a Gap spokeswoman, explained the new logo was intended to be the latest ‘evolution’ for the brand, and added that it had been for the last two years. Callagy explains her position, stating that "[The new logo] is more contemporary and current, and honors the heritage of the Gap brand, but takes the blue box forward." We don’t agree; there is absolutely nothing new about using the typeface Helvetica. (Just ask Eric Spiekermann.) 

Our Solution

new gap logo identity concept

The creative team at STARMEN came up with a realistic, achievable solution for Gap. In honor of the 'heritage' that Gap eagerly wants to embrace, we reflected on the first Gap logo and store back in 1969, and found a new way of embracing Gap's original essence in a contemporary marketplace — something with a similar mainstream flexibility as seen in MTV's logo redesign. Rather than being simply an 'add-on', this logo becomes more 'integrated' with the brand campaign, allowing Gap to align its brand initiatives with its loyal customers. Rather than placing the retro typeface proportionally in the center of the iconic square shape, we dramatically enlarged it to bleed over the edges. The clean, bold, organic lowercase font gives Gap a fresh new energy that's both friendly and inviting. We believe that our approach gives the logo opportunity to fuse the distinctive Gap imagery, and the square shape demonstrates the flexibility of the new branding. So, what do you think of our alternative? More importantly, what do you think of Gap's perspective? We want to hear your thoughts... and we'd love to hear from you, Gap!

By no means are we saying that the above solution is 'the solution.’ We understand that there is a deeper problem with Gap, and it's not just with their logo, but rather their overall brand. However, as creatives, we couldn't help but offer our recommendations for what their logo could be.

UPDATE: As many of you may be aware, Gap pulled the aforementioned new logo just as quickly as they put it up. There probably won't be much long-term damage to the brand, but our hope is that Gap will know how to approach the whole brand identity redesign more holistically by focusing on the brand itself and not just the logo.

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