In a nutshell, here’s what happened. GAP, the clothing brand, decided to change its logo. They decided on a quiet launch: like it was no big deal. Big mistake. Like they forgot there’s this thing called ‘social media’, Within moments of its unveiling, the chatter on Facebook and Twitter exploded. All negative comments.
Compared to the overall GAP consumer base, this was a small group, but it was a noisy one. Pretty soon bloggers from everywhere began posting their opinions of the new logo. They compared it to the “New Coke” and many called the design embarrassing. All in all, a social marketing nightmare.(I’ve posted the two logos. What do you think?)
Now GAP didn’t become the company they are today because they’re stupid. Give them credit for their fairly quick response. They put out a press release announcing that they have listened to their customers and will keep the classic blue box logo. Their spin was to compliment the passion of their customers, and since customers always come first, they decided to go back to their original logo.
But here’s the quote that I like best. “We’ve learned a lot in this process. And we are clear that we did not go about this in the right way. We recognize that we missed the opportunity to engage with the online community. This wasn’t the right project at the right time for crowd sourcing. There may be a time to evolve our logo, but if and when that time comes, we’ll handle it in a different way.”
Thank you GAP. During this obviously difficult time for the company you have acknowledged the power of social media marketing.
So what does this mean for social media marketers in general? Does it mean that all logo redesigns will have to go through a social media evaluation process? I’ve done some logo redesigns in my time and I shudder to think what a process would be like if we opened the design approvals to the social community.
What I do see is that once a redesign is determined (and you have to assume that some market research has been considered while redesigning the logo), a careful integrated launch has to be planned, and key to it must be how to communicate with the loyal social media consumer (known to many as a social media marketing campaign). Otherwise the brand will create an ever widening gap between itself and its loyal fan base, and that’s not what any company wants to do.
Natural Products Expo East is happening this week, October 14-16. It's another chance for this marketing consultant to meet up with old friends and colleagues, press the flesh with some future clients (always hopeful), hear what other marketing consultants are doing and find out some new facts about the industry and products.
The last time I was at the Natural Products Expo, I noticed someone who I had not seen in ten years. I said, “Hi” but it took her a few seconds to say “Peter?” Pause. “I didn’t recognize you.” Now I’m no Pollyanna. I know I’ve aged. A lot less hair. But I also don’t wear glasses anymore, and I’ve been working out. Not all bad. And fundamentally, I’m the same good guy I was when I first met her.
Over the year’s I’ve grown accustomed to my changes, so it’s always a little shock when someone says they did not recognize me, but it shouldn’t be a surprise. Basically my packaging has changed, and even though to me it’s subtle, that’s not the case for others. They had an image of me, and now I don’t fit it, or more accurately, it takes work for them to find me.
The same can be said for companies that change their packaging. Too often, the change is so dramatic that even though the label shouts out the name of the company and product, it’s not registering for me on the shelves. If I am a loyal customer, I’ll eventually find it, and pretty soon I’ll recognize the new packaging as easily as I did the old one.
So what’s the takeaway here? If you change your packaging too dramatically without taking into account your brand equity, loyal customers will find you, new customers who have never heard of you will find you, and everyone else will find your competition.
So does that mean don’t change your packaging and if you do, do it only slightly? Nope. The answer is far more complicated, and will probably cost you the services of a good branding expert. The only free advice I can give you is change, like aging, happens whether you like it or not. It’s all about how you deal with it. For example, the person I met at Expo who didn’t recognize me – I told her how great she looked, and pretty soon she remembered what a cool guy I am. Next time I bumped into her, she waved. Now if only I could remember her name.
Wish me luck this year. Hopefully everyone will recognize me.