Decoding The Real Reason Gap Changed Its Logo

Last Updated Oct 11, 2010 11:15 PM EDT

It's been the week from hell for The Gap (GPS)'s North American president, Marka Hansen, and she ended it with a note on Huffington Post addressing the fact that everyone seems to dislike Gap's new logo. Much of Hansen's note is written in the jargon of management corporate speak. It's neither apology nor confession nor action plan. Here's a translation, so you know what she's really saying:
This past Monday, without a lot of fanfare, we introduced a new logo on our gap.com site,
We didn't think that one of the largest clothing stores in the U.S. changing its core brand identity would be a big deal. We also didn't think anyone would notice that we stole that identity from American Apparel (APP), the most controversial fashion retailer in the country.
I wanted to take this opportunity to explain our thinking behind this decision.
The backlash has forced me to explain myself.
I've been president at Gap brand for the past three years, and I've been living and breathing the changes we've been making on our journey to make Gap more relevant to our customers.
I drink my own Kool-Aid every day. I am out of touch with reality and our ordinary customers. That's why this is all such a shock to me.
You've seen this evolution through many of our products, such as the 1969 premium denim and the new black pants, and more modern stores in many locations.
I'm just cutting and pasting from an old investor relations PowerPoint.
The natural step for us on this journey is to see how our logo -- one that we've had for more than 20 years -- should evolve. Our brand and our clothes are changing and rethinking our logo is part of aligning with that.
I'm using the words "natural" "journey" and "evolve" to convince you that Gap must change or die, even if that means abandoning the things that made us successful in the first place.
We want our customers to take notice of Gap and see what it stands for today.
Our same-store sales are in decline, and we need all the publicity we can get.
We chose this design as it's more contemporary and current. It honors our heritage through the blue box while still taking it forward.
I copied this from the deck we bought from Laird & Partners, the fashion advertising design firm that relegated our old logo to a footnote in much of our advertising for the last few years.
Now, given the passionate outpouring from customers that followed, we've decided to engage in the dialogue, take their feedback on board and work together as we move ahead and evolve to the next phase of Gap.
I admit we've pissed you all off. I will use some trendy management buzzwords -- "engage in the dialogue," "feedback on board," "move ahead and evolve" -- because I am too terrified to say anything specific.
We'll explain specifics on how everyone can share designs in a few days.
Like I said, I don't have a plan right now.
I'm excited about continuing the conversation and believe passionately in where we're taking our brand.
I'm desperately hoping this will all go away. All I want to do is sell some moderately priced jeans. Where's my blanket?

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