Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mind the Boss

Gap Inc. recently received a lesson in the power of Lovemarks. Earlier this month, the clothing retailer unveiled a new version of its logo which ditched the classic all-caps blue box emblem that the company had used for over two decades. The company replaced it with a sleeker logo featuring helvetica typeface and a small floating blue square.

According to one Gap spokesperson, the redesign was intended to help shift Gap’s brand from “classic, American design, to modern, sexy, cool.” What Gap failed to realize, however, is that, like all Lovemarks, their brand doesn’t belong to them anymore; it belongs to consumers.

Only two days after the new logo was unveiled, popular outrage on Facebook was so intense that the company had to reconsider. At first, Gap responded by inviting fans to submit their own design suggestions (which sucked in 4,660 submissions from over 1,000 designers in five days). Soon after they announced that, for the time being, they’re sticking with their classic logo.

This is clear proof, as if anymore were needed, that in today’s Participation Economy the Consumer is Boss. If she doesn’t like something, she has more power than ever to make her voice heard and change things.

Gap failed to realize the strong emotional connection that its consumers have made with their company logo over the last twenty years. It wasn’t just a rabid Twitter flash mob that caused this change of heart by Gap, there seemed to be a genuine outpouring by fans who love their Gap just the way it is.

This incident, although seemingly negative, is actually good news for Gap; it’s uncovered a well of activism (and it seems, affection) for the company that Gap hadn't appreciated. New fans! Proof that the company occupies a special place in the hearts of customers.

Gap’s snap decision to nix the redesign plan shows some responsive listening. Their intuition about the new logo was somewhat astray, but like Tropicana, they did the right thing.