Wow. Gap, one of the most recognised clothing brands in America, spectacularly put the cat amongst the pigeons on Monday with a controversial attempt at rebranding.

The switch to Helvetica, champion middle-of-the-road font of choice (whether good or bad), and featuring a seemingly gratuitous and random blue gradient-filled square has got the design world in uproar. And if that hadn’t caused enough unrest, what came next has caused meltdown!

The following statement was posted on Gap’s official Facebook page on Wednesday:

“Thanks for everyone’s input on the new logo! We’ve had the same logo for 20+ years, and this is just one of the things we’re changing. We know this logo created a lot of buzz and we’re thrilled to see passionate debates unfolding! So much so we’re asking you to share your designs. We love our version, but we’d like to see other ideas. Stay tuned for details in the next few days on this crowd sourcing project.”

Credit to Gap for noticing the public reaction, and in turn, responding to it quickly. However, the statement has turned the stomach of many a professional designer as they admit that they are encouraging suggestions for replacements.

The term crowd sourcing has an ominous feel to it at best, referring to the practice of “…outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to a large group of people or community (a crowd), through an open call.”* In essence, it undercuts the expert industry concerned (in this case branding and design) and provides the company with multitudes of free suggestions which can act as research, guidance, inspiration or can even provide a final piece of artwork.

was this logo launch ever intended to be final?

There has been some question over the production of the logo, with Laird + Partners rumoured to have been responsible but with no clear statement to back it up or proof on their site. And in a concerning show of non-commitment, Gap have even admitted in an article on the Daily Mail that they’re not particularly convinced the logo will stay. “…We will continue to see how it progresses and are open to customer feedback but it’s too early to tell if the logo will remain.”

Which all begs the question, was this logo launch ever intended to be final? Was it all a devious marketing ploy; spending as little as possible on a new logo with the sole intention of causing controversy and enticing the free suggestions that would follow? A terrible display of poor ethics if so, a very naïve mistake if not.

What do you think?

* From Wikipedia’s description.

Related links
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