The Social Marketing GAP

Mind the Gap warning on a subway platformI’m guilty; I’ve been making fun on The Gap and their new logo.  It is an ugly, half-assed, badly designed misstep from a brand that hadn’t made a logo change in over 20 years.  In our little world of Social Media, we are having a field day and The Gap is taking a heck of a licking for their latest new design.  As if that were not enough, now I’m taking things one step further and making fun of their mind-numbingly poor decision to leave the design up to the crowd and invite people to suggest better logos via Facebook.  I cannot help but mock their “Fine if you think we screwed up that badly, you do better” mentality.   They are really going to regret ever posting the follow up to what was already a fairly massive branding gaff.

That said, I am done talking about it and I think you should be too.  Here’s why:

We’re Not Helping

We aren’t convincing The Gap that we know better and that they should let us consult for them.  We are making them think that Social Media is a depraved hellhole that no brand should go near.  I work on the brand side of things and am trying to turn around the Titanic by evangelizing a radically new way of communicating within the walls of our 64-year-old company. When I put my personal passion for the Social aside, I really do worry that I may one day inadvertently throw our company to the wolves with a single misstep.

We’re Not Inviting

We tell brands to take a chance, to try something different, to accept this shift in communication.  Then we tend to circle above their heads, expect the world and attack the instant they slip up (I mean we need content for our blogs!).  If we want brands to be more open and to live in public, we are going to have to be a little more patient with the mistakes they’ll make along the way.  Social Media may not be a fad, but the way we act when there’s blood in the water makes brands wish it were.

We’re Not Encouraging

If we spent 1/100th of the time championing the brands that try, take chances and win you over with little details rather than harping on failures, it would encourage brands to do so much more.  Rather than feeling forced to participate, it would actually make them want to do it in the first place.  Many of us former geeks (ok, we’re still geeks) in the Social Media world have new found power and we are abusing it.  Sure, we can actually beat up the playground bully now, but why not just be his friend… it’s what we wanted, wasn’t it

Sadly, this will probably not stop.  This will become a meme, with people adding a little square box to the corner of random words.  This will be discussed to death on podcasts, with people questioning who is going to commit hari-kari over this.  This will become a case study to be shown at future trade shows as a ONLINE DISASTER akin to Motrin Moms, Dell Hell, Nestles (man people must have been heartbroken that nothing sounded good with Nestles) and Delta Skelter.  Bottom line: we are going to be hearing about this for a while.

I’m sure you’ve made a stupid tweet, a stupid decision online or said something you wish you could take back.  I know I have; heck, I may be doing that with this post.  I’m just saying that every once in a while, maybe we should cut a multi-million dollar conglomerate the same break we’d want them to give us.  It just might make them want to take Social Media and those of us working in it more seriously.

By the way, is it just me or is the new My Space logo stupid?  God… we really can’t help ourselves, can we?

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  • I would just like to commend you on writing this blog post. It’s so dead-on it ain’t even funny.

    You know that somebody in Gap marketing is cursing the heavens right about know because a bunch of anonymous Twitter users with nothing better to do decided that the new Gap logo — their logo! — was not satisfactory.

    I mean, this is what we’re using social media for? To rip a company’s logo choice to shreds? I could understand if this was Ford Motor Company’s logo, or some other iconic logo stitched into the fabric of Americana…but The Gap? Give me a break.

    It boils down to what you said: “Many of us former geeks (ok, we’re still geeks) in the Social Media world have new found power and we are abusing it.”

    I agree with you – I am not sure it’s ever going to change.

    • You’re probably right and I am sure we will all pounce next time there is blood in the water (myself included). That said… wouldn’t it be nice…

  • Thanks for this post, Michael, it totally nails the issue.

    To say that the social media crowd is tough to please is an understatement – we pour scorn on the new logo, and then on Gap for reverting back to the old logo that we liked so much. To quote @Mike_FTW, “We are a collective psychotic girlfriend.”


    Less than a week, really? I’d have hoped that Gap, a grizzled, 20-year veteran brand, would have more grit, vision and faith in itself to give the rebranding a chance. I’m a believer in the idea that people hate change until they love it, but in the meantime, I think other brands would do well to grow thicker skin, and have the temerity to state their case confidently, rather than wilt at the first sign of trouble.

    • Thanks Jason! LOVE the psychotic girlfriend comment.

      Let’s face it, they totally made a bad call putting that thing out there in the first place, so I don’t think going back was their biggest misstep. To be honest, the thing that drove me mad was their rash decision to suddenly make it a crowd sourcing project on Facebook.

      If I am a betting man, it was one of those things where no one realized just how bad it was until the world told them. There are times where you stick to your guns and times where you back off. Making fast decisions rather than the right decisions… that seems to be what Gap is most guilty of this week.