I, and thousands of others, have been having a jolly old time for the last couple of days (mostly on Twitter) snarking all over the new Gap logo. For those of you who have had better things to do than follow this scandal, here’s the brief:
1. Gap launches awful new logo (see it here)
2. The Twitterverse collectively retches
3. An unauthorized @GapLogo Twitter feed starts tweeting in defense of the logo (very funny stuff), and “the logo” is even interviewed on a FastCompany blog.
4. Gap, stunned, announces plans to crowdsource a new logo
5. More collective retching from the design community on Twitter – see especially.
6. Some speculate that this is all a genius PR ploy.
7. Oops, no it isn’t.
By tomorrow, this will all be yesterdays news. We’ve had our fun, now onto the next holier-than-thou time waster… But before we leave this debacle behind, it seemed worthwhile to ponder what impact this example of “the power of social media” might have on creativity, branding, and design in general. I’m thinking it’s not good. Specifically, how can we, as designers, bloggers, UXers, product developers, and business people, take risks and push boundaries when a world of haters lurks outside the door with their knives out? Sure, it was always thus, but stuff happens a lot faster these days. It would be a shame if the Gap – or the next victim – mistakes an instant, reflexive flash of disdain from a vocal minority for an actual predictor of failure. Even if they know better, it’ll be very tough for the owners of this project to stand up to the onslaught and stand behind their work.
Here are two possible outcomes – 1) Clients (companies, people) will think more about public reaction than about the substantive arguments for making potentially disruptive changes and, as a result, will take the safer paths out of fear; 2) People will dismiss “the crowd” as a bunch of cranky lunatics and ignore their feedback completely. As a design professional, I dislike both of those scenarios – but I think I need to be ready for them and prepare good arguments against them.