Popular Brands Can Still Inspire Passion in a Cluttered Media World

If Nothing Else, Gap Controversy Proves Consumers Still Care About What We Do

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Marc Brownstein
Marc Brownstein
I know the whole Gap logo fiasco is tired by now. Worry not -- I am not commenting on its design and its quick demise. What fascinates me is the fact that people cared so much about their Gap that there was a massive outpouring of negative dialogue all over the internet. In an age where consumers dictate what they want to be exposed to, and when, the fact that a fashion retailer changed its logo should have been a non-event. But it was poorly conceived, in many people's opinions, and there was a platform to voice disapproval that didn't exists years ago. A social-media platform, of course.

If you ever questioned the power of social media's ability to affect decisions at the top of corporations, this scenario was further proof that wouldn't be advisable. The consumer has easily accessible tools to be heard at all levels of business and government. It really is remarkable.

But what I came away with the most from this logo-reversal experience is that branding matters as much as ever in today's marketplace. Even though much has been written about the eroding brand loyalties in the today's consumer, what does it say that consumers couldn't stand the sight of that new Gap logo? To me, it says that what we do for a living is alive and well. That even though consumers search the internet for the lowest price, they still want the brand that they value first, then seek out the lowest price. And that brand matters more than price when push comes to swipe.

So what should agency folks like us be thinking about:

  • First, and most obvious: Do some testing of a logo before launching it. Had Gap tested its logo on its Facebook page first, by perhaps listing three or four finalist designs, it could have invited fans/customers to help choose the best design. Or, at the very least, eliminate the wrong one -- and a public-relations disaster.

  • What some bloggers would call a public relations disaster, others may call a brilliant way to gain untold awareness of the Gap brand. Launching a new logo that people criticized didn't reflect poorly on the fall clothing line, in my opinion. However, suddenly, everyone's talking about Gap again, and not J Crew.

  • If you were ever concerned that building brands was a sunset career in a digital age, you should be smiling now, and talking to your clients/prospects about the power of today's communications platforms and the intensity of consumers' relationships with their brands.

  • How can you think up something just as (ill-conceived and) brilliant for one of your clients, so they, too, can benefit from the publicity aftermath?
In the end, it's all good. We're in a profession that the world still cares deeply about. Now if we could only attract better logo designers to our agencies...

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