Established in 1969 in San Francisco, Gap is one of the most popular American clothing brands — net sales of $3.8 billion in 2009 can attest to it. With 1,140 stores in the U.S. and almost 300 more abroad, Gap pushes simple and unfuzzy clothing at very reasonable prices and of very reasonable quality. Through their advertising they have established a cool, breezy, and sophisticated brand visual language that ties everything together nicely and, until now, their logo was the perfect little bow to keep it all together. Without any fanfare, Gap rolled out a new logo yesterday. When I first saw it I thought it would just be a seasonal change, but now there is little doubt it’s a new logo: the file on their website is called newlogo.png.
Like its clothes, the old logo didn’t call attention to itself and it was elegant without being pretentious. Over the last year or so, Gap has been using a lot of Helvetica in their promotions and sales materials for the Premium 1969 Jeans, and the venerable font has been upgraded to wordmark status, while the big blue square has been demoted to decoration status.
Just as some folks hate Gotham in logos, I hate Helvetica in logos. It has the unique ability to make anything look pedestrian and, in this particular case, it makes Old Navy, Gap’s low-end retail sister, look like a luxury brand by comparison. The shaded square on the corner doesn’t help at all either — I’m not one to critique something by saying it looks as if it were done in Microsoft Word but this one is just too unsophisticated to warrant anything more than that. If they got rid of the blue square and went with the Helvetica wordmark by itself I might be more open to the change, but this is not flattering on the retailer.
You can follow the Gap Logo on Twitter @GapLogo to see how it is feeling about all of this. (Fake logo Twitter accounts: just a few inches from rock bottom, people).