The Gap’s branding disaster

By Ryan

yucky

Last week the (formerly) respectable clothing brand The Gap unveiled a redesign of it’s logo. Normally this process is long and complex as the value tied up in a recognizable brand is very high, and very important to the company. Not so much this time around. The Gap has chosen to relegate this complex task to a new process called ‘crowd sourcing’. The idea being that you task a large group of people (normally online) with creating something in the context of a competition. The assumption is that out of those people someone will have a brilliant idea. This is a great idea if you are designing a t-shirt or producing a promo film, but a horrible idea if you want something as complex as a brand. By definition, the participants are working on a minimum of information. They have no hint of the future ambitions of the company, the internal structure, or even something as simple as how the logo will be used. These are all critical pieces of information when we are talking about branding a company with thousands of employees and a billion dollar revenue stream.

Besides the obvious repercussions for The Gap itself and the furor it has created, this (in my opinion of course) sends a very poor message regarding the value of design and branding. This new logo presents the idea that professional design is so low in value that it is better outsourced to non-experts. As designers we are constantly fighting the seemingly endless battle of value. Would you crowd-source the mechanical design of a 747? Would you feel good letting a crowd of anonymous people install the electricity in your house? Probably not, yet large and small organizations continue to act as if design should be free.

If you happen to love the logo, you’re in luck because someone has graciously created this handy logo maker!

UPDATE: It looks like The Gap has wisely backed down and reinstated thier old logo. They have no foresight, but at least their hindsight is 20/20.

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