So today’s lesson in social media comes via The Gap, you know…The Gap, Baby Gap, Gap Kids, Gap jeans, Banana Republic and Old Navy. Just last week, Gap introduced a new logo (Google Search: New Gap Logo). Gone was the iconic blue box:
We now had to live with something ‘modern, sexy, and cool’:
Fine. Big deal. People didn’t like it. Personally, I wasn’t in love with it, but does my opinion really matter? No, I’m not an investor (at least, I *might* be, but I don’t pay enough attention to my mutual funds to know if I am or not). I’m also not much of a Gap shopper anyway – used to be, but not in a long time. I’m also not an employee, or someone important enough to be asked for their opinion.
But the self-appointed logo police started talking about it online and derided the new logo. Chatter was all over the place, people were making fake Gap logos using their names (isn’t imitation the sincerest form of flattery?!), and there was probably more conversation about the brand in the last week than there’s been in YEARS. Even if some of it was negative, anyone actually engaged in social media should realize negative conversation happens and can be expected. Without having access to The Gap’s reporting (were they even doing so?), it’s hard to say how much was positive to negative, but some negative conversation should have been anticipated (and a good team would have responses ready). And besides, who was commenting – was it really Gap shoppers? This conversation actually got me to think, “Huh, I haven’t been to The Gap in years, wonder if they have anything I’d like?”
And let’s remember, people weren’t sure about Twitter when it first got started. Or automobiles. Or women wearing pants. These things didn’t exactly go over very well in the beginning.
So happened? What went wrong? Why did The Gap issue this statement last night?
Ultimately, we’ve learned just how much energy there is around our brand. All roads were leading us back to the blue box, so we’ve made the decision not to use the new logo on gap.com any further. (Gap, Inc. Press Release)
The Gap caved! They folded (to quote @adamkmiec). They gave in to people trashing their new logo.
Why? Because occasionally, social media runs amok.
The vocal minority became a little too self-important and entitled. Does a store logo really impact whether or not you shop there? Did all of the people who commented online really matter?
I think if Gap had truly listened to the ENTIRE conversation, they probably would have seen the “outrage” stemmed from a small group of very loud individuals. As @robsaker pointed out to me, something like 80% of consumers didn’t even know the logo had changed.
Last Thursday, three days after Gap unveiled the logo, Ad Age asked Ipsos Observer to take the pulse of consumers on the issue. The independent research company polled consumers overnight Thursday, garnering just over 1,000 responses by 10 a.m. Friday.
All told, just 17% of consumers were even aware Gap had changed its logo — some 80% said they had no idea the logo had changed (the remaining 3% said they didn’t know what Gap was). (Ad Age)
So does the online conversation really represent the opinion of all Gap stakeholders? As Tech Crunch points out when they asked “What did it take to get The Gap to reverse its logo redesign?”, there was a lot of negative stuff out there. But this is only one side of the conversation. The other side simply hasn’t been discussed – those people who A. don’t care, or B. don’t think they can object to a company (they don’t own) making a strategic decision or C. actually, maybe kinda liked the new logo. I understand, The Gap may be worried about the immediate hit they took in the stock market.
Yeah, it was ugly. But was it really due to the logo or was it due to a weak August sales report? The cause of the stock dip is not anything I can (or want to) diagnose. From a larger, business perspective, I think The Gap’s investors (and therefore The Gap) should be worried about something other than their logo and the conversation surrounding it. If I was “The Street,” or did the investing/stock market sort of thing (never, ever), I’d be watching The Gap closely and/or selling it off. To me, this makes management look weak. It makes them look soft. It makes them look like they don’t know what they’re doing. And in today’s economy, even if you don’t know what you’re doing, you certainly need to act like you do.
So will I reconsider my thought above about shopping at The Gap? You betcha. I think they’re a weak company, who isn’t listening to the entire conversation and who gives in to a small, but vocal minority. And there are plenty of other clothing retailers out there with strong leadership I’d rather support. So does The Gap owe me anything or need to do anything for me? No, not at all. I’m not the vocal minority who believes just because I say it, it should be.
In social media, you need to be listening. You need to know what’s being said, and often more importantly, what’s not being said. And if The Gap had taken a step back and looked at the entire conversation, do I think we would be having this conversation? Would I be cursing @bsniz for driving me back to the computer on Monday night to translate a scattered email conversation into coherent thought/a post? Nope. We’d have a new Gap logo and lots of conversation, positive AND negative, around a leadership team willing to do what they had to do for a brand that (IMO) needed a makeover to effectively compete in today’s retail environment.
THAT probably would have driven sales and really given The Street and consumers something to talk about.