New Gap Logo, and their old one

This is a departure from my usual WTF Wednesday segments. I normally comment on the bizarre mashup between pop culture, branding, design, consumerism, etc. where the confluence of factors is humourous or noteworthy. This time around, however, I’m simply shaking my head in disbelief. How can The Gap, a brand that is so well-respected, and so known for design savvy, change their logo to such a dud.

On design merits, I’m not a fan of the new logo. I don’t want to get into calling out the designers (and clients) who created this, but I have to say it simply, I don’t like it. Greater than my opinion, however, is the simply fact that Gap are tossing years of brand equity in abandoning their previous logo and familiar blue square.

The old logo was simple, recognisable, distinct. It used colour, shape, and letterforms together to create a lasting symbol in the mind of the consumer. It worked well in signage, in-store merchandising, hang tags, and clothing labels. Squares are convenient that way. This new one, with it’s free-form shape, makes all of the above more difficult. Objectively speaking, from a functional, brand-focused point of view, it’s just not as useful.

What some people think of it
what some people think of it

The design blogs are already a-buzz, even though, from what I can tell, this new logo is a mere 24 hours old. (I actually waited until this morning to post so it could be part of WTF Wednesday, even though I knew I’d be scouped by Armin at Brand New, who wakes up at 5 am to post new articles.) Mat Dolphin has featured a thoughtful write-up, in which he does a better job than me of not scorning the new logo, or its apparent designers, Laird+Partners, whose work for Gap over the years has been very sharp indeed.

… I’m sure Laird+Partners, the designers behind the re-brand, will have had a huge, complex brief and an extensive rationale behind why they went the route they did. I don’t know what the brief asked for and I don’t know their reasons for the final design. But I’m sure they’ve put in a great deal of research and thinking as to how this brand will develop long-term. They may have got it completely wrong and the whole thing might be a failure, but surely it’s too early to say?

From a typographic point of view, Helvetica is a divisive choice. Designers, at least, usually have strong opinions. Here, the question in my mind is not whether Helvetica should be used in the first place, but whether it can be used in an arena where so many competitors abound. The most visible of which is American Apparel, who have created a distinct brand in spite of a dull logo.

American Apparel logo

I will watch this story with great interest. Most importantly, I want to see if the consumers take — one way or the other. Will the new logo effect sales? Can any logo bring Gap back from the abyss of mainstream retail? Does anyone care?

via Down with Design »