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The GAP Logo Poll: Is Ignoring Brand Equity A New Marketing Trend?

IMB_GAP_NewOldLogos It is easy to take relationships for granted. This is in business or life, when something becomes so familiar it can fall into the back ground and its value becomes easy to forget. Last year Tropicana launched an entirely new brand look and had the customers up in arms about the new design*. Within months they switched it back. Earlier this year, GM launched what (in my opinion) was a well conceived marketing stunt to kill the “Chevy” brand in an effort to remind people of all the positive associations that brand had with American culture. Again, soon after GM retracted that effort.

The latest in this growing trend is the GAP – who recently changed their logo and then backtracked to now announce that they will “engage in the dialogue, take their [customers] feedback on board and work together as we move ahead and evolve to the next phase of Gap.” Why are all these companies forgetting about the equity that their brands have built up in the minds of the consumer? More importantly, is it even an accident – or are they using it as a stunt to simply remind people of how much they really liked the old brand in the first place?

It can be difficult to tell, but from a PR point of view you could certainly get worse coverage than having all the mainstream media report on how much people loved your brand and didn’t want it to change. Any PR team would take that story over other types of negative coverage any day. So will we see more brands conveniently “forget” about their brand equity in order to get their current customers to start caring more about the brand for a day or two? Or am I being too optimistic about the intelligence and foresight of these brand managers and giving them too much credit for thinking through what may just be a lack of good judgement and poor marketing strategy?

Let’s find out. Answer this poll and let me know what you think:

*Disclaimer – I have worked on the Tropicana brand in the past and was working on it around the time of this new logo announcement, however I had no involvement in this part of the business. 

9 thoughts on “The GAP Logo Poll: Is Ignoring Brand Equity A New Marketing Trend?”

  1. Nice post. I understand how you may want to think it’s intentional. I do believe they all wanted to change but forgot how powerful people are online and how passionate they can be about a brand. I think it’s a nice reminder to big companies not to ignore their constituents after all and to listen online in the first place.

  2. Up until very recently I was totally unaware of brands such as Gap and Tropicana, as mentioned in your blog post, were giving way to even thinking of ‘rebranding’ themselves. I think that every company evolves over time and it may be a new way for them to do business. If you think about it, a lot of brands and logos have changed as times have changed. Companies want to stay current with current trends and what they think will appeal most to consumers. I do not necessarily think that change is a good or bad thing or that companies are totally ditching everything that they previously stood for, but are just trying out new strategies to see what will work and what doesn’t.
    Because of failed approaches, companies have suffered negative media and some unhappy customers. The fact that companies have retracted their botched attempts makes me realize that the people behind the decisions are just like us – human and likely to make mistakes every now and then. I don’t think the idea is to cause a ruckus and get themselves into the media spotlight for a day or two, I think that companies are just trying to test different strategies to see what works. Sometimes companies will get lucky and create something more successful than they have now but might have dozens of loyal customers whom might not be ready for such an upgrade. Sometimes it can be good to start with a test group before launching a whole new campaign and then having to go back and start all over again, which has been the current, and not very popular, trend at the moment. President Obama successfully tried several strategies during his presidential campaign by testing different messaging on different days on his website to see what image and message combination was most successful. This seems like a great approach for other companies to try before getting torn to shreds by the media.
    While true that a lot of these attempted changes have been met with resistance and backlash, I foresee companies shifting gears in the future regardless. As the saying goes, ‘change is inevitable,’ and people need to be able to recognize and accept changes that a company they support make. Perhaps nothing else about the company has changed but a logo. Is that really going to be the end of the world? Probably not. I think that sometimes when a simple, small change is made, people have a fear that other changes are likely to come as well. Sometimes this might happen, but it is not always the case. A good example would be Hershey’s chocolate. Their wrappers have changed several times throughout the years but the chocolate remains the delicious milk chocolate we have all known and loved since its creation. So if Gap or Tropicana want to change their logo I say go for it, as long as the product remains the same that’s all that really matters in my mind. Everyone will still enjoy drinking wonderful orange juice or wearing comfortable jeans for years to come. Have some test groups before for companies before showing a new idea to the whole world and see what happens. Change is good and exciting. Embrace it!

  3. Logos are an interactive way for brand launching and certain creativity made by designers to promote the business and its quick growth. The previous comments made by others are very helpful with great examples.

  4. At least one commenter on the Ad Age web site noted how convenient thislogo controversy was, given that no one has thought about The Gap at all for some 20 years (it’s just there in the mall, like the food court) and, what do you know, we are just about ready to get into the holiday shopping season.


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