Saturday, October 16, 2010

And so it goes.

Wow, that was fast. The Gap has decided to trash both its new logo, and its crowd sourcing campaign. If you type "new Gap logo" into Google (as of today), you get 13,300,000 results. Yowza.

“Since we rolled out an updated version of our logo last week on our website, we’ve seen an outpouring of comments from customers and the online community in support of the iconic blue box logo," said Gap North America president, Marka Hansen, in a news release posted this week on the Gap, Inc. corporate website. Ms. Hansen continued, "We’ve learned a lot in this process. And we are clear that we did not go about this in the right way. We recognize that we missed the opportunity to engage with the online community.  This wasn’t the right project at the right time for crowd sourcing. There may be a time to evolve our logo, but if and when that time comes, we’ll handle it in a different way. “

It will be interesting to see what happens "if and when" the Gap tries to reinvent its logo again in the next few years. Until then, I'm still sticking to my guns that their brand needs more help than a logo overhaul.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mind the gap, Gap.

This week, there was a flurry of conversation around the Gap. If you missed the news, the company developed a new logo, and then after some major backlash from the public, invited consumers to submit alternative logo concepts via Facebook. Marka Hansen, the President of Gap North America, wrote a piece that appeared in Thursday's Huffington Post.

I'm all for evolution, but this entire process just seems backwards to me. Though the Gap likely has an enormous budget, time and money are both still valuable currencies. Why would a company ask for public feedback AFTER spending many hours/dollars to create a new logo? If having that "public approval" was so important, why not engage focus groups during the development process?  Instead, by going social with their request, the Gap has stirred up angry customers who loved the old logo (many dubbing it "iconic"), as well as graphic designers, who are furious that the Gap would ask designers to create work with no promise of compensation. It's a PR nightmare. And on that note...interestingly, a few people have suggested that the Gap is getting exactly what they want: media attention for a lagging brand that seems to have lost its core identity.

However, it's important that we all take a step back and remember that a brand is so much more than a logo. Speaking from my own experience as a consumer, I've been a pretty loyal Gap customer since I was a teenager (call it 20 years). Today, however, I run hot and cold with the Gap. Once in a while, I want to buy three of everything in the store, but increasingly more often, I feel as though the Gap is in a perpetual state of confusion, and I walk out empty-handed. In my eyes, Old Navy is the young/trendy side of the brand, and Banana is the upscale side. Gap, the original member of the brand family, should be somewhere in the middle, with mid-priced classics. The Gap "brand" used to match that classic sense, but in lieu of offering the well-made staples that were once their hallmarks, today shelves are stocked with a mish-mash of trends: my husband often laments that it's hard to find a pair of khaki pants or jeans that aren't shredded or overly distressed, and though I consider myself pretty fashion-forward, I realize that it's not appropriate for a 34-year old woman to be wearing a micro-mini. Honestly, it's sometimes hard to tell who the Gap is appealing to these days.

For those who are Gen Xers like myself, you'll likely remember that Gap, Inc. successfully evolved a brand back in the 90's: Banana Republic was once safari-inspired, though you'd never get that sense walking into one of their stores today. Given the longevity of the Gap brand, this phase in the company's evolution is sadly falling short of expectations. Instead of reinventing one small (albeit well-loved) aspect of the brand, and then asking the public to reinvent it again, why not focus on figuring out who really shops at the Gap, and stock shelves with product to consistently appeal to that market? Perhaps they've already done that, but given the ever-changing look and fit of each season's collections (as opposed to the other more-consistent Gap, Inc. brands), I am hard-pressed to believe it.

To put it bluntly, there is a gap in the Gap's thinking. In my opinion, they've lost track of who they are in the course of their "brand evolution," and are relying on the public to help them fix an aspect of the brand that isn't broken. I hope that the recent media attention helps them refocus and get back on track. Bonne chance, Gap.

Monday, October 4, 2010

There's no place like home.

My husband and I recently celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary (how time flies!), and a friend was getting married in California the same weekend as our anniversary. So, we made the monumental decision to get away for the weekend - by ourselves. I travel pretty regularly for work, and my husband has also done overnights away, but this weekend was big: both of us gone, for three days.

We scrambled getting everything ready (a will! doctor's notes! an overstuffed suitcase full of forty-seven outfits!), and quite truthfully, I was a nervous wreck getting on the plane. Thankfully, everything was great. My parents were THRILLED to watch C for a few days...and C had a fabulous weekend without us. Though I'm very glad we got away for a few days as a couple, when we finally got home, I was so relieved and happy to see my little girl (who was sound asleep), tears almost came to my eyes.

Miss Dorothy Gale really hit the nail on the head. It's good to be home.