Mind the Gap

It’s been an interesting few days in the world of mark making. First, GAP Inc. unveiled a new logo on their website which swiftly became The Biggest News in The Entire World. Then, for a week or so, people bitched and moaned about it. They designed their own better logos. For free. They made fun of each other for designing better logos for free. They flocked to other mediocre mainstream retail outlets for comfort and familiarity — then, in a move historically reserved for French military units and very reminiscent of the Tropicana re-brand debacle, GAP surrendered to the horde.

That’s right. Tonight, waving white flags with blue squares on them and shouting something ludicrous about crowd-sourcing, they went back to their old logo.

This is in no way a commentary on the aesthetic value of the new logo, you can get plenty of that elsewhere from people a lot smarter than me — what concerns me is the prospect of a future where branding and design decisions are made by the mob. Crowd-sourcing is awesome. This isn’t it. This isn’t even design by committee. If the internet had been around, could someone like Paul Rand or Milton Glaser have ever existed? Someone with singular vision, willing to be booed at first — believing that history would eventually prove him right. Or would IBM still look like a meatball wearing a corset?

There will always be people who prefer the old and sometimes those people will be very noisy. Evolution is uncomfortable, but throwing eggs at everything we perceive to be a downgrade isn’t just juvenile — it’s dangerous. It undermines what’s great about the web. It’s wonderful that we have forums for discussing the relative strengths and weaknesses of different brand identities and it’s fun to see what out-of-work designers woulda-coulda-shoulda done, but at the end of the day: it’s a logo.

And it would have been okay.

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