One of the biggest news items in the corporate/ branding world lately has been The Gap’s sudden change of logo, and the negative feedback they have received from fans all over the world because of it. As soon as the announcement came of the new logo The Gap’s Facebook page exploded with comments of disdain for the new logo and questions of why they changed it in the first place. While we are in the business of public relations which is not branding per se, something like this would play a big role in the work we do as publicists. A brand’s identity (while not decided by a publicist) is an intricate part of our job and just to play devil’s advocate, I thought I would go through some of the steps that I would have taken should I have been the publicist for The Gap. NOTE: I must admit that I do not have every single detail of this re-branding and while I can read what is out in the press I am not in-house at The Gap and have no idea of what they have done internally about this issue. These are just my thoughts. Lets begin:
1) Leading up to the re-branding I would have crafted materials explaining the decision to launch a new logo. These materials would have then been circulated among all of the corporate/ branding editors and publications. This goes hand in hand with arranging interviews with top Gap executives to explain this decision and how it affects and benefits consumers.
2) For social media, I would have began creating buzz of the big news as early as a couple months before the launch to begin gradually preparing fans. This could have even become interactive by asking people’s opinion of the logo, how it could be made more modern, etc. Putting a positive take on something before it even happens is a good way to warm the crowd up. Kind of like inception.
3) The day of the launch I would have made sure that a designated executive/ spokesperson was on hand to answer any questions and interviews. I would have also had a force of people prepared to respond to social media comments and inquiries and maybe even launch a deal in conjunction with the launch of the logo to immediately get a positive reaction from people. For a company this large something like this would have been crucial.
4) Were things to have gone badly after all that (as they did in real life) I would prompt someone from the company to make an immediate and very public statement. Maybe even hold a press conference to address issues/ concerns/ negative criticism.
While I would like to say that if all that failed I would pull the new logo and replace it with the original (which the Gap announced it is doing today) that is not something that would have been in my power. As a publicist my job is to support a company and their initiatives. And while I can create, propose, and execute anything I am dealt, in the end this decision is up to corporate. As a publicist, our job is to work with what we are given and make the best out of it. We are not in charge of production or corporate strategy, and while I know that on a day-to-day basis I do MUCH MORE than just secure press for clients, something as serious as a logo change is just not up to me. What did we learn from this? We learned that it is crucial to take your fanbase into consideration before doing something as crucial as this (focus groups, surveys, polls, etc), communication and messaging are key, and lastly (if we didn’t know it already) never underestimate the immediacy and affect of social media and the ability of your customer to respond.