Were Those Shouting Down Gap's New Logo Actual Brand Loyalists?

There's a Fine Line Between 'the People' and 'a Mob'; Marketers Don't Need to Placate the Latter

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David Puner
David Puner
Oh Gap. The People have spoken -- pardon, conversations have happened -- and The People have overruled you. As you know, this is the age of democratizing brands via social media, and The People wish they'd been consulted earlier, because they could've told you what not to do with your apparently beloved, possibly iconic logo and, moving forward, please consult them on everything.

But who are these people, The People, who have forced you to abandon your new logo, proving that you listen? Are they loyal Gap advocates, or folks who have been told they are now just as much about The Brand as The Brand itself and feel empowered (entitled?) to give you the figurative finger from inside a moving car (windows up, doors locked) and then joyride over to the next rubbernecking opportunity along the internet superhighway? Have they bought Gap jeans recently? Socks? Were The People really losing sleep over your logo change?

As we hear it, Gap, you betrayed all Gap fandom by deciding you wanted to badge your stores, bags, tags, more demurely (or maybe more frumpily, but that's kind of a matter of opinion). The People have conversed with you and about you, Gap, and they said: "#FAIL!" Oh man, I know that hashtag can sear like the heat of 1,000 white suns. Thankfully, you opted to engage, because we know as a brand that gets it, you must not only speak to your loyal consumers, you must also listen to them.

But why'd you go and change the logo back? Were you worried you made The People mad?

Thing is, change is imperative for most successful brands that perpetually seek to meaningfully reinvent themselves while retaining the essence of what made them successful in the first place. If you stand in place, you'll inevitably flounder or eat dust (had a Krispy Kreme lately?). But will a brand's consumers, today also known as fans, likers and followers -- The People -- eat dust with their beloved brand? Some will walk the plank with you for a while (see: Saab. Don't see: Pontiac). Clearly, there is nostalgia for Gap, but couldn't it be part of the offer of a Gap represented by the new logo?

Gap's press release announcing the demise of the Gap logo is titled: "GAP LISTENS TO CUSTOMERS AND WILL KEEP CLASSIC BLUE BOX LOGO." It's nice you listened, Gap, but you didn't have to shortchange your future to placate a few dissenters today. Listening is great and all, but at the expense of vision? (And what about all of those nights of candy bowls and coffee at focus groups during the logo development process? Nothing?)

If you visit the Gap Facebook page, you will be greeted in the left column by old media within new media -- an image of a Gap catalog model who is seemingly, with the tug of a pointer finger, itching to slip out of her impossibly well-fitting jeans. The image is utterly suggestive, yet totally banal and harkens back to those controversial Brooke Shields' "Nothing comes between me and my Calvins" ads of yesteryear. Shields was 14 at the time. People were outraged. Despite the outrage, the campaign ran its course. Perhaps today, with the influence of social media and The People, right or wrong, Calvin Klein would have done things differently. Gap, the point is: What are you going to do when you've got a situation beyond the superficial on your hands?

The People run your show now -- it's up to you to ensure it's a collaborative relationship.

David Puner is director of social media for Havas Media's digital media group, Havas Digital. Formerly the social media voice of @DunkinDonuts as Dunkin Dave, he can now be found on Twitter at @dpuner.
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