Three Lessons from The Gap’s Logo Change

Have you been watching the retail world lately? Specialty retailer The Gap, Inc. has made interesting headlines. Last week, in an effort to update the brand, a new logo was unveiled. However the negative public response shocked the company.

The new logo was selected via the crowd sourcing technique – where tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, are outsourced to a large group of people or community (a crowd), through an open call. The logo selected was not received well by the public, and through an online backlash, the company reversed its rollout this week.

So what happened?

In a statement released by The Gap, they simply said, “we messed up”. “There may be a time to evolve our logo, but if and when that time comes, we’ll handle it in a different way. “

Several news articles have recapped the company’s seven-day debacle. And while it’s certainly easy to sit back and say, “How could they have…,” we would be wise to pause and learn from the very public error and look in the mirror a bit.

So what can we learn? Let’s look at three principles.

Strategic business decisions must have the right people at the table.
The leaders at Gap probably had the right idea when they decided to find ways to broaden their appeal and re-energize the company’s image and connection with customers.  However, they were short-sighted in their approach and, but not involving the right stakeholders and decision makers in the process, they made a quick decision that met surprising displeasure from the very people they were trying to reach.

Business decisions must have solid rationale.
It’s all about the “why” – for both customers and employees.  That question is answered when leaders can explain the reason behind a sudden change, the process followed to arrive at a decision or the planned expectations of a decision.  When we make quick decisions, we run a great risk of bypassing one of these steps.  And when that happens, the decision will fail at least on some level.

Quick response equals quick recovery.
Everyone messes up from time to time.  The real success is how we handle a misstep.  I give Gap some credit.  In less than seven days, they pulled the new logo, issued an apology, explained some lessons learned and reverted back to their original logo design.  Time is of the essence when mistakes are made.  The sooner the attempt to make things right, the greater the opportunity to maintain the relationship with those impacted by the decision.

Not all decisions we make become public.  But when they do, it’s important that the process leading to the decision doesn’t have any “gaps” in it.  Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from someone else’s experience.

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