This piece in the San Francisco Business Times is extraordinary. It interviews the MD of Landor San Francisco on the subject of Gap's much-maligned new logo.
Soundbiting is always unfair, so do read the whole piece. Particularly because I suspect the fault may lie in selective quotation. But even so...
Reeser doesn't think that Gap's new logo deserved the tarring and feathering it got on Facebook, Twitter and virtually everywhere else. "I think there has been way too much made of this. I think this is an overreaction to social media sites and networks," Reeser said. "Once you start letting the general public tell you which way to go in a situation like that, where does it stop? And I'm sure the general public is not sure of Gap's longer-range strategic plans" and how the new logo fits with those.
And then there's this, though it's not direct speech:
Reeser worries Gap has set a dangerous precedent of companies reacting to mob opinion rather than committing to a well-thought-out, long-range brand strategy even if it is not at first very popular or well-understood.
In fairness, the advice gets a bit better, which leads me to suspect some selective quoting may be going on.
There is a lesson to be learned here that if you are going to make a dramatic change, and Gap's logo to my mind is a farily dramatic change... I think some type of advance warning and a story behind it could help.
But in essence, the way this article puts it, the lesson for brands is that you shouldn't really bother listening to all those stupid people out there on the internets with their worthless loony opinions about whether or not your logo is rubbish. Just crack on with your long-term strategic plan and ignore them and eventually they'll catch up to your vision. You're basically Galileo. One day they'll all understand. Cretins.
Of course, there might be a teeny tiny dissenting opinion to this obviously brilliant strategic counsel. One which says that if people talk about your new logo enough to make it trend on Twitter, and create spoof Twitter accounts for it, and build a DIY crap logo generator, and generate hundreds of thousands of words about you online, you might want to take them as seriously as they obviously take you. Yes, a lot of them seem to just want to batter you online, but you might want to find out why.
And lo, Gap is backtracking furiously and keeping the old logo. This will inevitably spark the 'was it a PR stunt?' discussion that always comes up when this sort of thing happens. My bet is that no, it wasn't. I think it's what happens when you assume you can do strategy in a vacuum.
Quick clarification/disclaimer: I work for WPP, and Landor is a WPP company. I've no idea who does Gap's branding and design (apart from Gap themselves, obviously). This is just my personal opinion, as always.
# Alex Steer (13/10/2010)