On October 4th, the GAP quietly rolled out a new logo. There was no fanfare. No press release. No change of signage at their stores. Just a change on their website.
The response was anything but quiet and it started almost immediately. GAP is now saying that it was surprised by the reaction, since the logo received positive in-house response.
This situation makes for a great case study in the world of design, for two reasons: 1) The GAP says it spent two years prepping for the new logo and was surprised by the reaction and 2) It then took to its Facebook wall to ask for free design work. No details have been given, so it is just speculation as to what they plan to do with any free submissions, but they throw out the word “crowd-sourcing“, which usually can be read as “a collective work, with little or no compensation“.
The opinion of the logo has been unanimous. People pretty much hate it. It has generated a lot of buzz, yes, but it has all been mocking the company and the process (or lack of) that they used to come up with this logo design.
So what can we learn from this?
Advertising and design agencies charge a lot, and they are going to be called on more and more to justify the cost of their work. In today’s economy and with the surge in internet networking it will be easier than ever to find someone willing to work for free. Go to Hollywood, and you’ll find young eager cameramen willing to film anything for free to be able to add to their portfolios, as a springboard for bigger things.
But is this really free?
Or does it just cheapen the hard work of others. Can you really create an image for your business by requesting free work? It’s cliched, but you get what you pay for. A large company like GAP is taking a huge gamble if it follows the direction it seems to be heading, and collects free designs from the public and then lets the rest of us vote on our favorite. (Again, that is speculation, that that is what they will do, but they certainly seem to be implying that.) Can a large company realistically expect to rebrand itself around a logo that someone created in a matter of hours? There is more to a logo than just creating something that looks pretty, or modern or whatever descriptive word you want to convey. There is an image and an emotion that it is hoping to evoke. That takes research and study.
Logos are not something to take lightly. GAP admits that it spent two years working on this rebranding. And it is a big fail.
Now they are hoping to turn it into a big WIN for them by asking the public for free designs.
A logo should be viewed as a legitimate business expense. Not doing so, and choosing the wrong one can have a huge impact on its success.
For more information and thoughts from the public and design community:
- Response from GAP’s North American President on Huffington Post
- Response to logo on AdAge.com
- Gap’s Facebook post, requesting free (SPEC) work (read the comments to get a true sense of what the public and designers are saying about this)
- BuzzFeed: New Gap Logo (YIKES) (this page is filled with links to other sites that have voiced their opinion on the logo)