Some folks have had quite a bit of fun with Gap’s recent logo gaffe. The new logo launch lasted 4 days and was then recalled. The issues on this topic have been fiercely debated in advertising, retail and marketing circles over the last week. But the real frontlines of the battle have been played out on Twitter and Facebook, with fans leading the charge. After a week’s outcry of betrayal, what can we, as branders, marketers and designers, learn from Gap Gaffe?
BRAND LOYALTY IS PARAMOUNT
A logo that has a great deal of loyalty must be handled with care. Kevin Roberts, Lovemarks author, commented that the upheaval demonstrates that the consumer really owns the GAP brand. The brand consultants seemed to run about blindly trying to make this happen but forgot what they knew about customer loyalty.
Coca-cola has evolved their logo over the years but you’d barely know it. Apple has too, as it went from the rainbow colored logo to the silver and white we know today. They both understand they don’t “own” their brand. They evolved with the times and put on a new look while remaining true to their customer base.
PAST HISTORY IS NOT A GUARANTEE OF SUCCESS
According to Wikipedia, Mickey Drexler , one of the top retailers in the world, “is often credited with GAP’s meteoric rise during the 1990s…Under Drexler the company made a dramatic shift to private brand merchandise and expanded rapidly to become an iconic part of ‘90s pop culture. TV ads featuring young models and catchy music came to epitomize the relaxed American casual look that Gap was all about.”
Recently, in an effort to strengthen the brand, three firms were selected to compete for the 2010 Gap holiday campaign that focused on millenials. As we know, this is a techno-computer, mobile handy, social media crowd. They have ideas and opinions. They value authenticity and conversation. Here’s where the branding firm missed the mark. In a desire to update the brand, GAP miscalculated the importance of keeping their fans informed. They focused on the logo and not on strategies the GAP should be using to “engage” the millennial culture.
A SOLID APPROACH IS NEEDED
In any rebrand roll out it’s important to have a solid marketing process in place where the strategies and goals are defined. The messages and visuals should take their cue from that process and build upon positive benefits your brand offers. This will overcome any negatives by pointing out how dynamic your organization is and bringing your audience in the direction you’re headed. Despite an earnest desire to win the business, the Gap branding teams pulled a shotgun approach.
The Gap is struggling to sell in their retail space. In a recent Facebook Success Summit session about Facebook Marketing and Promotions, Dave Kerpen, of LikeableMedia, cautioned against looking “sideways” at the competition. What this means for the GAP is to look more broadly at what other types of companies are doing to penetrate the millennial space. It’s all about listening, loyalty and creating community.
And where’s Mickey Drexler now? In 1999, Steve Jobs brought Mr. Drexler onto the board at Apple to launch their retail stores. The first step was to build a prototype to identify and define the Apple user’s profile, including wish list and buying habits. What they created was a gathering place for the Apple community, and “experience” of all things Mac. Incidentally, Apple stores have the “highest revenue per square foot of any store in the world.”