Gap really stuck their foot into something, repeatedly, in less than one week. First they launched a new logo online which incited widespread negative feedback. Then to mitigate the situation they publicly proposed a crowd-sourced alternative, and finally retreated and reverted back to their original logo. All of which officially nominates Gap for the “Most Poorly Handled Rebranding Project of the Year” award. However, there may be other companies’ execs hiding in the background thinking to themselves this is a problem they would like the opportunity to have. And rightly so.
I stress the term opportunity because no company wants to go through the stress, expense, and potential long term brand backlash that Gap has recently experienced. But their plight brings a fundamental point to light, which is that the company has developed a following of thousands of brand believers who have an emotional attachment to their company, and by extension, their logo.
Logos are essential to brands because they convey meaning and are something people can feel connected to. And when that connection is emotional, built over decades, and unexpectedly disrupted, you get the Gap’s results. Even more pointedly, passion stirred fans enough to spend their valuable time and energy writing scathing critiques in a very public forum of over 700,000 Facebook fans and posting alternative designs across numerous websites. How’s that for consumer engagement?
Brand building is a process designed around sending continuous messages to your target market. And forging a consumer connection, whether logical or emotional, to your brand is an important marketing objective whether or not it translates into short term sales. Developing a brand’s identity may not always involve communications about the latest product launch or some holiday special, but by developing brand characteristics that are important to your customer base, you can create engaged customers. And having that following, even at the risk of ticking them off on rare occasion, is something any company covets.