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The Real Lesson of the Gap Debacle: Logos Aren't Key Anymore

We should be looking beyond superficial, static graphics and examining the social brand platform, instead.


Gap's recent failed attempt at a logo redesign is only the latest in what seems to be a monthly cycle these days. Looking back over the past couple of years, we see Tropicana, Pepsi, AOL, and evenApple being raked over the coals for similar missteps, and provoking considerable buzz from the design and brand industry.

Unfortunately, these pundits are almost all talking about the wrong thing...especially in the recent Gap debacle. Whether it new logo was designed by a well-intentioned but misguided “logo committee”, or an out-of-touch branding firm, the ongoing debate indicates, more than anything, the branding and corporate identity industry's myopia.

Simply put, no one really cares about the logo anymore. Today, people are more interested in what a brand can do for them. Great brands are discovering that logos or advertisements are losing relevance, and instead put their efforts into creating social brand platforms that invite participation and create value in authentic and relevant ways. The real reason the Gap logo failed was that it wasn't backed by any of this; the same goes for Tropicana and the rest.

Social brand platforms require a new way of thinking: a cross between advertising, branding and design. In contrast to static logos and corporate identities where the focus is on control and consistency, social brand platforms have five key characteristics: they’re useful, social, living, layered and curated.


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