I have been fascinated by this whole GAP logo circus, I have made my thoughts about it fairly obvious in a previous post 'The GAP Logo - Is the outcry and criticism justified', I then came up with a few 'for fun' GAP logo attempts, one based on the very original and vintage 1972 GAP service mark.
I have tried to resist doing a 'sensible' design, the whole ethical debate about crowd-sourcing marginally bores me. I ultimately realised you may as well join them as there is no way on earth you will beat them. The extraordinary volume of GAP logo designs submitted from FaceBook to Dribbble and independent websites and crowd-sourcing contest sites has been just phenomenal.
Regardless of your views on ethical issues bought around by GAP encouraging people to design a new logo, the lure of the challenge is to great to ignore. After all, I do have a choice in this matter, GAP are not making 'anyone' design for free, they are simply working the system for all they can. After all, it's just business. I have ulterior motives to work this project, and I will make it work for me in way's not immediately obvious.
Who knows if their brand will take an even bigger hit over this, no one can say for sure.
Helvetica Gap Logo Design
I have stuck with Helvetica for my GAP logo redesign, I based this on the assumption that Helvetica is an existing brand requirement, specifically as GAP use Helvetica in the majority of the brand campaigns.
See image below.
Easy to improve other peoples work
The ideas you see here are not one I would necessarily suggest 'putting' forward as a serious GAP logo alternative, it's just what I would do to improve the 'new' concept by Laird+Partners. It's always easier to improve on someone elses designs, especially in this case.
So the actual idea or concept I have played with is nothing extraordinary. Just my suggestion.
My own opinion is that there was nothing wrong with the original boxed GAP logo, first image in this post. There is nothing wrong with it, regardless of how long it has been around. Some people are now naturally saying it's boring and old yada yada yada.
Logos do not need or have to be super exciting, they just need to work.
The blue box GAP logo has worked for many years. To blame the logo on GAP's downward spiral as a high street fashion shop is just naive poppycock.
Any company should feel proud to have a mark like this, it's pretty much timeless, which is what we all strive to create, it's stylish, its memorable and compact. So OK, time for change, most major brands go through a refresh or complete overhaul at some point, but GAP really needed to pull something special out of the bag, decades of the blue box logo are hard to forget.
It's in out nature to compare old with new, sometimes the re-brand is a success, sometimes it goes catastrophically wrong. I do wonder if brands hiring massively expensive agencies for the initial logo design is such a good idea. Too many people involved, too many people to please and too many people interfering with the design process.
A freelance logo designer can cut through the crap.
I love the original blue boxed GAP logo. However, I certainly don't love this one coming up next. We really need to work on this framework.
New Gap Logo
The logo causing the controversy, above, uses Helvetica. It is that hard to really make it just a Helvetica wordmark 'own-able', hence the need to add this dated blue graduated box just to draw some distinction. Many brands using Helvetica have done so from the start, rather than change half way through. As I mention below, 3 letters is not much to play with, American Apparel is a more substantial wordmark and so Helvetica seems to work with it very nicely.
The new logo just doesn't work.
The wording would work better on its own, but this would hardly be unique. Just 3 letters set in Helvetica. In start contrast, the original blue box GAP logo is 'own-able' in every sense of the word. They will find it hard to match that level of individuality with a Helvetica logotype.
Helvetica can look sweet but it can also look bad, which I think the new logo shows. A few tweaks, a different style more suited to the letters, changing the colour and you loose the cold clinical feel that the new one currently gives.
A few suggestions
My first suggestion is to include a lowercase 'G', this softens it up, makes it more friendly, more approachable. The uppercase 'G' does not work in this combination of letters. It overpowers the 'a' and 'p'. Lowercase feels much more compact and natural.
Black can be pretty harsh, especially when used next to a blue, takes on a sterile, clinical conservative feel. So changing the wording to the GAP blue sorts this out. There is now no need for that awful graduated blue box, my coloured lettering carries this 'previous brand association' just fine. The graduated blue box adds nothing whatsoever of value, other than an eyesore, but does prevent it becoming an elegant and clutter free solution.
I feel the particular weight of Helvetica used is too light for just 3 letters, so I have weighted it up to Helvetica Neue Black and closed up the spacing.
Although this is default Helvetica Black, it would be feasible to customise it a little. This would bring the advantage of it becoming more 'own-able' to GAP, the changes needn't be huge, subtle tweaks word work.
This could then lead to complete customisation of the Helvetica face just for GAP. This custom designed Helvetica could then be used for the rest of GAP's branding and print design.
As you can see from the above example, these few changes make a huge difference to the overall look and feel, it has more impact and presence, it is simpler and less cluttered than the 'new' logo.
It says more more with less.
Without the graduated blue box, this becomes a wordmark, typemark, logotype etc and will be supremely flexible in use.
The new heavier wordmark will now pretty much fit anywhere you want it to go, not so true with the graduated blue box version.
As it is one colour, it can work in any combination and looks particular striking white on GAP blue.
The big blue box
Not to suggest that the logotype needs to be contained, but if you do apply the original box style, it will look very solid and will have strong brand connections to the old logo, whilst being a fresh updated incarnation.
I do believe keeping the blue box would really help with general perception and visual uptake due to the the public's existing familiarity of the old logo. The blue box IS Gap for many people, with a new font in a new position, it takes on a new lease of life. The upside is that GAP don't have to start over with educating people on the visual changes of the GAP identity. This is a more subtle approach but has a deeper voice. It will yield bigger rewards all round.
The blue box adds versatility with my suggested improvements to the thicker and fuller typemark. The wordmark can be interchanged as you need.
Don't confuse your customer with a new personality if you don't really need to. A complete change of clothes is not always needed, often just a new hairstyle will do the job
A quick side-by-side comparison.
On the storefront
Mock-up of new GAP wordmark in blue box on a GAP store front. It feels and looks much fresher in my eyes.
When you walk pass this new look you'll have a familiar feeling, nothing is too out of place. You know it's GAP from a mile off but you'll also know this is a new GAP. The two can work side by side, familiarity and change work hand in hand if you get the balance just so.
You'll feel good about the change, you'll be more inclined to visit.
I am really not sure what plans they had with regards to the new logo on store fronts. I can't envisage one solution where it would look as prominent as the original blue box GAP logo or even my suggestion above. Without seeing all the research and supporting sketches, ideas, concepts it's hard to imagine, but I do know their new logo would lack the right sort of presence, warmth, familiarity, comfort and the list does go on.
The overall design of a logo or brand mark needn't be rocket science, it's just the reasoning and rationale behind it, and the execution.
If GAP had planned this as some sort of cunning marketing scheme, so far so good. I have been one of many openly showing my 'uncertainty' about the new identity and it is that, uncertainty. We jump on that speeding horse and state our case, knowing that we are not alone.
Company responsible for the new GAP logo - Laird+Partners
Safety in numbers is a great ally when criticizing.
But here's the thing, here is why I think it is OK to openly criticize a major brand such as Gap. This is not about slamming Gap specifically, it's more about me saying why I feel it's OK to openly criticize.
This is me standing behind my own expressions, thoughts and very public opinions over the last few days. And yes, I have also done a version GAP Logo V2
You can't hide, you don't want to hide
A brand as global as GAP are out there, simples. If they take the step to re brand, and the result is that it seemingly goes against what we, the GAP customers are used to, alienating us in the process, they frankly deserve all the flack.
They are not the only big brand to create such a stir, and they will not be the last. As a brand they have a responsibility to ensure they dutifully continue to serve their employees, loyal customers, shareholders and investors etc. By taking a decision to go with this redesign, regardless of the brief, regardless of their thought process, reasons and justification, regardless of who ever designed it and who ever made the final decision to approve it, all are at fault in one way or another.
Some more or less than others.
Most of the comments on Twitter, made in posts such as this are basically angled towards this dramatic change in identity, the logo does not make sense when viewed as we would have previously viewed the GAP brand. This is to say the GAP logo, the identity, the brand is within us, we see it, we know it and we acknowledge it for what it represents, like their clothes or not.
But I do shop at GAP. Their blue boxed logo always makes me feel good about walking into that store.
I knew what I was getting, I knew the service, I knew exactly what I wanted. Now I am not so sure what gap is about, all based on a few days of a new logo design. I know I am not the only person, designer or not, to feel this way.
This is what contributes towards a brand. Familiarity, comfort and awareness.
Now I see this, this clinical looking logo and wonder why they brutally killed such a timeless and graceful logo. One of the better identities on the high street. This new identity is a poor reflection of a brand that people have been aware of for decades.
Do you criticize those that criticize?
For those of you that criticize those criticizing the new logo design, I say it is you being naive and simplistic. It is poppycock to say we are all just saying the design is crap. Although when looked at at first impressions, it isn't one of the last things you feel. And regardless, first impressions ARE important.
But what I am saying is that seeing this design is simply a shock, that it doesn't make sense, that is seemingly IS a backwards step, that the previous logo was a timeless classic (think Waterstones rebrand). All these thoughts contribute to the level of emotion many are displaying.
140 characters it's not easy to really fully describe your unhappiness, so we make do.
Social media is our best and worst friend. Brands like GAP have to take it on the chin and suck it up.
Rebranding is a high risk game and criticisms made when it goes wrong are fair game. The designer, designers or artworker may have been 'ordered' or 'micro managed' to produce this iteration, that's not so good for them, but they are part of the process regardless. Did they really full fill their role and responsibility?
Maybe they didn't speak up when they should, maybe they just didn't care how it was designed, maybe it was some internal designer, maybe it was an agency trying to reinvent the wheel.
Whatever the reason, when a big brand causes so much confusion over their identity, they deserve the public 'slapping'. As customers, it's our right. As designers we can understand, we can sympathize and emphasize, that gives us more reason than any to say what we feel.
And in this case, regardless of the real motivations behind the redesign, motivations we are unlikely to see any time soon, all we can go on are our first impressions. That's the risk with logo and identity design, and we all know it. We know that anything we do, could be savaged by others. That is a risk and it will never change. If you take on a big project, and are of a very nervous disposition, maybe you should not have taken on that project, regardless of the pay check.
Being responsible for a rebrand or redesign is an awesome responsibility.
When it all dies down
When in a few days, we find out that all this was some risky publicity stunt, we can all be safe in the knowledge that regardless, they did have a crap logo. Even if it is for real, they have apparently changed tack, maybe they will try to make it look like a publicity stunt even though it was a sincere attempt at a rebrand, and try to wiggle out.
They wouldn't be the first major brand to have to do a 360, revert back to the original. I can only hope.
My advice to GAP?
Firstly, you have made Helvetica look bad in a logo. It looks great in all your previous advertising pieces, but falls apart with this graduated blue mark, that just looks too clinical. Secondly, don't mess with your brand. Thirdly, just revert. Lastly, when will you start selling men's flared jeans again? Specifically size 32/32. Thanks.
1972 GAP Service Mark
This GAP service mark would have been a far better alternative, still not as beautiful or stylish as the blue boxed original though.
The original "The Gap' service mark filed in 1972. The origins of this drawing in stylized word form is February 29, 1972 when The Gap Stores filed a service mark application for U.S. federal trademark registration.
Other recent GAP logo resources
Gap logos on Dribbble
Recycling the original vintage 1972 'The Gap' Logo
Gap Speaks Out: Yes, the Logo Is Real, Not A Social Experiment.
Gap Redesign Contest
Mind the Gap
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