Archive | April, 2011

GAP’s Branding Blunder

25 Apr

Monday, April 25, 2011

Here’s a poll to set the stage: From the two logos below, which one inspires you more? If you said the one on the left, then this is just for you!


Here’s one for the record books – possibly up there with New Coke (remember that fiasco?). [You can find out more about that at]

Without so much as a press release or social media teaser, GAP furtively revealed a new (plain and boring) logo on their website in late 2010 in order to position themselves as a modern and cool company. However, almost immediately there was buzzing across the internet criticizing the “cheap” look the new logo portrayed. Yes, GAP is positioned as a casual and  low-priced brand, but the new design spoke greater volumes. 

GAP claimed that the new logo was a “crowdsourcing project” and only the first step in the creation process. With a little backpedaling, but still standing behind their design, GAP released a statement on their Facebook page asking fans to share their designs:

“Thanks for everyone’s input on the new logo! We’ve had the same logo for 20+ years, and this is just one of the things we’re changing.
We know this logo created a lot of buzz and we’re thrilled to see passionate debates unfolding! So much so we’re asking you to share your designs.
We love our version, but we’d like to… see other ideas. Stay tuned for details in the next few days on this crowd sourcing project.” 1

Here’s the thing: Not only did the new logo turn out to be  a bad idea, but the contest wasn’t successful either. Thousands of designs were submitted, but GAP ultimately ignored their fans and decided not to use any of them. This would have been a huge opportunity to get fans involved and take ownership in the brand. Instead, lets chalk it up to a whole other flop! My thought is that they should have just skipped that part all together and listened to the feedback they were receiving about going back to the original logo.

Why exactly was the logo change a mistake? 

For any rebranding campaign to be successful, the brand perception as a whole must be revamped. That means that the philosophy — lifestyle, if you will — of the brand has to be repositioned in the minds of consumers. It has to be more than just a change in logo. In fact, a new logo design should be birthed from this new philosophy, not the other way around. And to make the rebranding even more successful, it helps to prep consumers by sending out social media teasers and invitations…creating a positive buzz previewing the new direction. GAP certainly could have benefited from that.

GAP later admitted that “[a]ll roads were leading us back to the blue box[.]” It took less than a week for the disapproving comments to force GAP’s backtracking and they reinstated the old logo. GAP North America President Marka Hansen said, “We’ve learned a lot in this process and know we did not go about this in the right way.” 3

Is this truly a blunder or a clever PR stunt?

We’ll probably never know the true answer to this question. You have to admit that in the end, GAP received a lot of publicity. It’s not exactly the kind of publicity you would want, however. So my guess is that this was a blunder with sloppy results. If it were a PR stunt, the open design contest should have been a huge success. What do you think?

So what can we take from this? Lesson: Don’t mess with a good thing! (Or if you’re dying for a change, “[u]pdating the essence of the company, the products and the service, must always come first before updating the company’s image. 4)

*GAP logos courtesy of LogoTalks.

2 Gap Inc.

3 The Week

4 LogoTalks

More posts from this series:
Winter Classic: Save!
Coffee, Wii Bowling, Yoga and…Banking?
Success in China: KFC
Bird-Watching: It’s Not Your Grandmother’s Hobby Anymore

Winter Classic: Save!

12 Apr

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

They Shoot, They Score!

The long-term fate of the National Hockey League rested in the very capable hands of CEO John Collins, former marketing master for the NFL. When hockey got exciting (in my opinion, nothing is better than playoff hockey!), fans weren’t tuning in unless their team was represented. A valid reason for not watching, albeit a disturbing one for ratings. That was a huge adjustment for Collins, coming from the NFL  where “[n]obody cancelled their Super Bowl party because they didn’t like the two teams that were in it.” The lockout in the 2004-2005 season didn’t help matters either following which the sport was all but dead.

So the question was: how do you create enough buzz and excitement for hockey to encourage year-round, unconditional viewing? The answer: Create an event honoring hockey’s outdoor pond roots and featuring some of hockey’s best stars – The Winter Classic! The first ever Winter Classic debuted New Years’ Day 2008 with two hugely popular contenders: The Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Ultimately, it’s about the stars of the game who make it exciting. “[I]t showed doubters in the NHL hierarchy that the league could be must-watch viewing.”1 People tune in not only to watch their favorite teams, but the personalities and talent that comprise the league. Names like Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Steven Stamkos are drawing in fans from cities and towns across the country, not just in home markets.

Since the inception of the Winter Classic game, the NHL has witnessed record ratings. Not only is “[t]elevision viewership in the United States … the highest [it has been] in eight years [but], arenas have been filled to capacity — and then some — during the playoffs, new sponsors are signing up and merchandise sales are on the rise.”2 In fact, the Winter Classic has encouraged higher ratings than the NHL has seen in over ten years, the highest since Wayne Gretzky’s final game in 1999.3

So what was it that lead up to this ingenious idea? Collins and his team determined 3 key things. 1) “The NHL fan base is what we like to call the cream of the sports market,” Collins says. “We have a younger demographic and a tech-savvy fan base.” 2) Determined the need for a comprehensive source for all things ice hockey. was launched shortly thereafter as the ultimate authority of hockey reporting, recaps, stats and fan interaction. And 3) “Fifty per cent of our fans’ favourite team is not their local team. They’re out of market,” Collins says.1

“[T]he romance of the NHL’s outdoor game has strangely resonated with Americans”…”eclips[ing even] the Stanley Cup as the league’s signature event.”4 I’d call that a success!

(If you’d like specifics on how the game has changed the NHL, visit Puck the Media.)

NHL logo courtesy of
2 Associated Press
3 Wikipedia
4 Yahoo! Sport

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More posts from this series:
Success in China: KFC 
GAP’s Branding Blunder
Coffee, Wii Bowling, Yoga and…Banking?
Bird-Watching: It’s Not Your Grandmother’s Hobby Anymore

Success in China: KFC

5 Apr

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Today is the first installment in a series of marketing successes and failures. It’s about KFC’s success in China.

This logo is widely recognized around the world. However, it’s garnered its most notoriety in China. In fact, KFC’s profits in China have now surpassed sales in the United States, where it all began.

In the 1980s, most restaurants in China were operated by the government. Enter Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1987. “I remember going to duck restaurants here in the early ’90s when you’d walk on the floor and the bones crackled under your feet,” says James MacGregor, author of One Billion Customers: Lessons From the Front Lines of Doing Business in China. “So they came in, they had a clean restaurant, they had fast service, they adapted their menu, and they invested in the country, and they just spread across the country very fast, so they’re everywhere.”1 Amazingly, Yum! Brands – KFC’s parent company – opens a new restaurant every day in the Middle Kingdom. According to Yum! Brands’ website, “[m]ainland China is [the] number one market for new company restaurant development worldwide” with 3,400 restaurants in more than 700 cities. Today, approximately 65% of Yum! Brands profits come from their Chinese locations with expectations of that growing to 75% by 2015 2.

How and why does it continue to work? Because before entering a new market, they conducted extensive research into their new customers. They surged into a new country with a plan to reinvent the restaurant experience by offering assorted food options – including both American and Chinese recipes – fast service and a clean atmosphere that the Chinese people value and appreciate. Chairman and CEO David C. Novak says, “[W]e are absolutely determined to get this done by building a famous recognition culture where everyone counts, making our brands dynamic and vibrant everywhere, demonstrating we are truly a company with a huge heart and delivering results again and again.”3 Novak continues, “Our strategy is to leverage our undeniable strength and compete and lead in every significant category that emerges in China.” Now that sounds like a plan!

1 Marketplace report February 21, 2011
2 Yum! Brands website

More posts from this series:
Winter Classic: Save!
GAP’s Branding Blunder
Coffee, Wii Bowling, Yoga and…Banking?
Bird-Watching: It’s Not Your Grandmother’s Hobby Anymore

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