Gap definitely knows how to make it viral. The question is, was the Internet scandal caused by its new logo actually worth the publicity? When the historically consistent clothing brand switched the logo on its website from the old three-letters-in-a-square to the new monstrosity, the web reaction was immediate and decisive: the logo sucks. Not only does it suck on the level of the 2012 London Olympic Games logo, unlike London, the re-design doesn’t even have the balls to be interesting.

The logo isn’t anything revolutionary. At this point, a switch to Helvetica — or Corporate A Pro Demi Condensed, News Gothic Demi or whatever it is — is about the oldest trick in the book. But what’s more surprising is that the design doesn’t seem to have anything to redeem it at all. It’s a masterpiece of ambiguity. The blue box attached to the end of the word Gap isn’t symbolic of anything specific, it’s simply a ghostly, pre-Photoshop gradient-ed expanse of anonymous infinity, like a parody of corporate graphic design. At least the America Online “Aol.” logo redesign had an enormous conceptual background to it, the re-branding containing the idea that AOL was no longer a single product entity, but a dynamic identity.

Gap’s logos, old versus new (from

To me, the logo recalls the sudden rash of social media graphic design, which generally holds true to an ethos of sans-serif, single words, and boxes. Gap’s indefinite box seems to have more to do with a Twitter share button than the company’s old logo. Like a Tumblr or a Dopplr, Gap chooses to focus on the name and the text. The thing is, they did before too. Where their earlier logo seemed eternally ahead of the curve, this one attempts contemporary and fails. The Gap logo’s biggest offense is how inoffensive it is, and that’s the worst part: unlike other atrocities of graphic design, it doesn’t even provoke; it just bores.

Tumblr logo (from

Confronting the negative response, Gap has sent out a call for crowd-sourced logo submissions, a tactic decried by the design community as disrespectful of actually good design work. The results of one independent Gap logo re-making contest look hopeful for the brand, but Gap can’t just make amends through the same social media that revolted against it.

AdAge has a good roundup of the ebb and flow of the debacle, while Gawker explains that the logo is a dumb branding gaffe. The logo has even spawned an attendant parody Twitter account, @gaplogo, which has torched the creatives behind the project and given the design a life of its own. In fact, Fast Co. Design even interviewed the logo, using its own logo as the interviewer (!?). This is clearly a new age in the anthropomorphizing of inanimate online identities.

You can also make your own version of Gap’s logo at Crap Logo Yourself! Here’s ours (also Social Media-fied for good measure):

UPDATE: Crap Logo Yourself is — understandably — experiencing a great than expected traffic so it has been periodically down for the last day or so.

Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...

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