Rochelle Weiner Carr - 10/11/2010 - Branding & Design / Marketing Strategy / Public Relations

Ok – the graphic design community is in a big uproar over the new Gap logo. And OH BOY do I have to agree.

I’ve been telling clients for years that a successful logo is distinctive, simple in design, unique, and distinguishes the company from the competition. It should work in black and white, in color, and at any size. A good logo represents, through typography and/or illustration, in the most concise and simplified manner, the company’s individual personality. A logo most certainly should not be something your 5 year old neice could whip up in 2 minutes flat in Power Point.

Not knowing the brief from the client, all we have is the final product, seen here next to the other logo that they’ve had in place for the last 20 years.

The old logo, while it’s been around for a long time, is still relevant. This is a good logo, since it’s a classic. It fulfills the qualities of a good logo that I mentioned above, and better than that, 20 years later it is still relevant.

Dismal Design

The new logo however, is in plain old Helvetica bold and has a blue gradient box stuck in the upper right corner, overlapping into the black letter forms. Several non-stellar ideas going on here.

  1. Helvetica - First of all, I am a big fan of using Helvetica. A long time classic, ever readable and relevant (although many designers disagree here). There is even a documentary film, which I loved, all about the use of Helvetica over the years. I even used a version of Helvetica (Helvetica Neue) in the Andiamo Creative logo (see upper left). However – it is important to “make it your own” as it were. You don’t just leave it as is. You have to take it and put a spin on it. You never want your corporate identity to be easily replicated.
  2. The underlapping square – First of all, for practicality, you don’t want two colors touching in a corporate logo. If you’ll notice, logos for most big brands do not have colors that touch - there is usually a white space between colors. This is a safety measure. It removes registration issues during printing and makes it easier to reproduce in multiple mediums including screen printing on fabric or embroidering on a label (let’s keep the end client in mind here).
  3. The gradient - Oh dear the gradient. I was a HUGE fan of gradients in the late 90s as my good friend Scott can attest. Scott was in charge of pre-production for print projects at the company we both worked for at that time. Gradients were all the rage in the early years of digital graphic design and prepress guys like Scott were pulling their hair out trying to make sure they printed correctly, which at that time was a tricky thing. Today they print better, BUT, anyone in the industry is instantly pulled back to the 90s, so immediately the new logo looks a bit dated. Also, gradients are very difficult to reproduce in embroidery. So how does this look on a label, or a ball cap? I’d like to see that myself actually.
  4. The placement of the square - From what I’ve read in various designer blogs this week, it’s been postulated that the brief from the client may have contained a wish to retain the blue box in some way. That’s possible. It’s also been postulated that the square is placed in the upper right corner to symbolize the forward movement of the company. However, are either of these points immediately apparent to the the viewer? Particularly the Gap’s typical client who hasn’t spent years working in graphic design. No. For this reason it is unsuccessful. If nothing else, the logo must be easily understood by the audience. Dismal design for sure.

But is it primo pr?

So – overall, I do think that the new logo is awful. However, was it brilliant pr? Google “Gap new logo” and you’ll find more than 15,000,000 results. There is even a blog (not sponsored by the Gap) that is running a design contest to design a better Gap logo. I even gave it a go myself (listed at number 286 on the contest site):

AndiamoCreative-Gap011The Gap had been falling in popularity and sales for years and quite recently I’d heard that they were in danger of closing their doors. However, I’d like to see their sales numbers now and over the next several months as this all plays out. It might just be the best idea they had in years.

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