As much as agencies like ours love to talk about planning and research and Important-Sounding Scientifical-Type Stuff, at the end of the day, what we do is not Scientifical-Type Stuff, but art.
You either like it, or you don't. You either respond to it, or you don't.
And for as long as this game has been around, people have been trying to put it on an assembly line and bottle it. Which usually adds up to one person having an original thought, and about 10,000 other people grabbing that person's coattails and hanging on like grim death.
But here's a trick that works more often than not. Be authentic. Not what you think "Minivan Moms" "Early Adopters" or "Gen Y 2.0" will think is "authentic." What you know is authentic. Even if it's a little scary, or seems "too smart." Because the second you get too concerned with doing what's easily bottled and replicated, you find yourself safely ensconced inside your undisclosed location corporate boardroom, and out of touch. Without the ability to be authentic.
And something like this happens.
Honestly, we're not that shocked by this thing. Why? Because our expectations for a corporate behemoth like Gap are pretty low. We've designed a logo or two before. And the process of dragging the poor things through a conference room is closely akin to having weasels rip your flesh.
"OK! We'll use Helvetica! OK!"
But corporate behemothness is no excuse for pissing on our leg and telling us it's raining. Being big isn't in-and-of-itself the worst thing in the world. If anyone should be allowed to slap some Helvetica and a blue box together and call it a logo, it's Gap. After all, if they had done something groundbreaking, would any of us have suddenly mistaken them for scrappy indie upstarts? No. We're not saying they couldn't have done better. Of course they could have. But, we understand the "meh." We can accept the "meh."
Unfortunately, Gap didn't stop at "meh."
At best, we're looking at a weak-ass attempt to appear to be "listening."
At worst, we're looking at a global behemoth trying to get a new logo for free.
And we're definitely looking at the worst kind of cowardly treatment of their design team.
Let's see how these "passionate debates" are "unfolding."
I'm doing this little project where I'm trying to rethink my clothing style. so here's what I want you to do:
-please design me a custom outfit. jeans, shirts, perhaps a coat and hat since it will be getting cool soon…"
"You need a new name as well. How about "Chasm" or "Abyss." My work is done."
"Abyss." That's funny. But the one that sums it up best?
"First you guys f*ck up. Then you want someone to fix it for free?"
Now, in the past we've talked about relinquishing control of your brand, and how that can be a good thing. This ain't how. Because – whatever you think of the logo – the transparent pandering of the "crowdsourcing" stunt isn't authentic. Well, authentically lame, maybe.
Now for something completely different:
Awesome. Taking on NIKE? Recruit God. (And Doctor J.) Unreal.
Now, let's compare the conversation that went on in Gap's boardroom to the conversation that happened in Converse's:
GAP: "Let's get consensus. And consensus about the consensus. Look at some Powerpoint slides that prove whatever it is we already decided we want. And for god's sake don't do anything controversial. I'm thinking Helvetica. Is it time for lunch yet?"
CONVERSE: "Hey, you know what would be cool?"
Both of these efforts required a roll of the dice. Only one brand stepped to the table with the confidence that comes from an authentic effort.
You either get it, or you don't.
UPDATE: Gap Caves In, Goes Back To Old Logo.
From their Facebook page:
"Ok. We've heard loud and clear that you don't like the new logo. We've learned a lot from the feedback. We only want what's best for the brand and our customers. So instead of crowdsourcing, we're bringing back the Blue Box tonight."
Gah. Listen up, Gap, because you obviously need the help: You chose the logo. You (probably) spent a lot of time making your decision. Second-guessing yourselves based on a bunch of pointy-headed bloggers complaints? You've made a huge mistake. Again.