Fast Company

I Have One Word for Gap's New Identity

Brand identity expert David Brier unveils a new disorder: Gapititus.

After reading the title of this post, you might have expected a certain word. No, it's not that word. (If you're looking for something deep, insightful, meaningful or otherwise pedantic in this post, stop right here.)

Someone already beat me to the Crap solution, so I looked long and hard to how I could convey the total yawn (or at least a spin that might be interesting to somebody) of this newest brand identity debacle. Here it is:

Whether you want to read is as "goop"--the drippy stuff usually found by toddlers that is highly questionable, then cool. At least that would be applicable to the baby market.

Or, if Gap was going into a new foodie category, pronouncing this so it rhymed with Coop (as in cooperative), then groovy. Other than that, that is all I've got to say.

Fuel to the Fire
Right after I wrote the above and submitted this blog post, it was brought to my attention that Gap, on its Facbook page, opened up their logo issue to a crowd sourcing fest. But it starts with the words, "We love this [new] version but..."

HOW can you "love" a logo that doesn't even fulfill the basic definition of branding which has as its main fundamental differentiation? This merely shows Gap's complete misunderstanding of branding. How can you ask anyone to design anything with:

  • no criteria
  • no audience identification (old, young, male, female, or is it merely "anyone with extremeties"?)
  • no competitive analysis
  • no "what problem are we solving?"

No. It's all a cosmetic band-aid which is so unbelievable for a brand as big and "mature" as Gap. I'll be surprised if a few people won't lose their jobs as this is basic Branding 101.

A Total Gap (in branding)
All I see now is a total Gap in understanding what branding is all about. As in my bullet points above, if you ask no questions, you'll get no answers.

David Brier is an award-winning brand identity designer, author, and branding expert. His firm's work has won the admiration of peers and organizations but, more importantly, has helped clients jump-start their brands in new and innovative ways, even (and especially) when they've failed in previous brand makeovers. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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5 Comments

  • magda.pasat

    I live in Stockholm, Sweden and here we have ZARA from Spain. When you take your purchases at ZARA shop they are coming in a paper bag. This GAP paper bag I saw in one of the websites regarding the logo change looks same as a ZARA paper bag.
    GAP logo looks same as a ZARA paper bag.
    I must confess that when I first purchased from a ZARA shop and I received my products in that bag, I perceived as pretty good looking: clean, simple, navy blue looks serious.
    But in my mind right now it's just GAP copies ZARA.

  • Dennis Purcell

    I would venture to guess that this was done by an in-house agency art director and not a consulting graphic designer. If true, this is clearly a case of the advertising agency (www.lairdandpartners.com) over stepping their area of expertise and (for the client's sake) should have consulted with a top identity firm like Chermayeff & Geismar, Siegel+Gale, Landor Associates, Cato Purnell Partners, Wolff Olins or Pentagram. I'm hoping the GAP voice mail boxes are over flowing with messages from the aforementioned firms.

  • Asheboro Magazine

    Wow! I am astounded at how much this new logo sucks. I am usually not one to be so negative but there isn't anything positive to say about the new design. What's funny is the Gap isn't the only mega-brand that is struggling with their identity in the new social media world. Old school managers who thought Facebook and all other social media venues were a passing fad are trying to play 'catch up' and show their companies that their MBAs are worth more than the paper they are printed on. The bottom line is, if you are doing business the old-school way it is only a matter of time before you bite the dust. The Gap lost its appeal to me many years ago. I can't even remember the last time I set foot in one of their stores and they haven't done any better attracting my teenage kid's business either. Time to stop putting so much value on education and experience and placing it on imagination and innovation. Experience doesn't mean much in a business world that changes minute by minute. In other words, the problem with the Gap runs much deeper than their logo...the problem is the antiquated management philosophies mega brands are holding on to in a world where the little guys are more nimble, more innovative and more imaginative and they are using social media to run roughshod over the cumbersome behemoth brands.

  • Lucian Rosca

    I can summarize GAP's situation like this: in the '90s around 80-90% of all my clothes were from GAP. In the 2000s that went down to no more than30%. Currently... I don't remember to have entered a GAP store in the last 12 months.
    The new logo? Plain incompetence.

  • Beth Hibbard

    This is my censored comment from the Huffington Post:

    “That isn't a logo, it's a cut and paste job by an unskilled designer who has no sense of proportion. It actually cheapens the brand. It It's design, or lack thereof, reminds me of one of Wal-mart's generic house brands. I can't see it reproduced successfully on product labels. Bad job."

    This must have offended the moderator.

    I did finally realize that what offends me most about this design is that I would no longer be able to determine if I was shopping for clothes or housewares from Crate and Barrel.