November 20, 2017

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Mind the Gap.

Mind the Gap.

“Mind the gap” is a warning to train passengers to take caution while crossing the gap between the train door and the station platform.Wikipedia

A warning, indeed. If Gap’s new logo fracas does turn out to have been a publicity stunt instead of the horrific launch of a dreadful, ill-conceived logo, social media will take a hit.

Why? Because once again, if people are looking at straight “buzz”–how many people are talking about it–then this is considered a success, isn’t it? When in reality, the brand will lose credibility in the eyes of consumers and fans (are there any left?) Some person will run the numbers and say “see how passionate people are about our brand?” Ugh.

Ignition3 highlights some of the reasons my crap-detector went all tingly yesterday when I saw the new logo: there wasn’t a seamless rollout of the logo across all properties, it looks like someone spent less than five minutes on it, it’s easily replicated and not iconic at all, and so on. The post goes on to point out that other brands have had success in restoring fan faith by issuing mass mea-culpas and asking for input. People like to think they’ve “helped” a brand–what better way to ignite their passion than changing something they like (or are ambivalent about) into something horrible, asking for their forgiveness, and then requesting their help?

If it turns out to be the case that this is an attempt to manipulate the public in such a manner, there will be a long way up from the hole that has been dug here. You thought people didn’t trust advertisers and marketers before?

If it is an attempt to get a new logo on the cheap by throwing it out to the public, in the hopes that someone will “win” a contest so that the company doesn’t have to pay professionals to do something they’d planned to do anyway, well–that’s tacky. It’s exploitation, pure and simple. If it’s a design competition, there had better be a serious cash prize attached to this.

This is the sort of nonsense, IF it turns out to be a publicity stunt, that will turn social media into the Internet version of reality television. A vacuous numbers game with little redeeming merit.

Update: Good grief. It looks like this was not a social media experiment. I don’t know if this is an improvement on the situation or not. So they didn’t punk the public: good. But that new logo? AWFUL. The rollout and launch of the rebranding effort?: AWFUL.

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About The Author

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips is the founder of 4L Strategies, and has worked in communications and public affairs for just over 20 years. Her background includes work in politics, government, lobbying, public affairs PR work, content creation, and digital and social communications and media analysis.

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