Social media, from the perspective of a business, is great. The ability to communicate directly with an audience and create a more personal relationship with them can be invaluable to a brand and a business. User generated content, for example, is seeing a huge growth in popularity, and is another way businesses are connecting more directly with their customers. But this shift in focus comes at a price – companies have far less ability to control their image and direct how, where, and when it is seen. You can’t know what people are going to say to and about your company, and today they have more ability to say it to the world than ever. And sometimes that can bite you square in the butt. Gap just learned that lesson.
Meet the new Gap logo. Perhaps you’ve heard about it. After 20+ years of use, Gap decided it was time for an update to their classic blue box logo. The new logo is pretty straightforward – Helvetica text Gap, with a small blue box with a slight fade at the top right. The idea was the modernize things (new font) while keeping the spirit of the original (the little blue box).
They updated their website with the new logo, and posted it up on Facebook to show to their sizable following of users. And in one fell swoop, they threw themselves to the wolves. Everyone hates it. Their Facebook page and Twitter page exploded with negative comments – the logo is cheesy, it looks like it was made in Word, fire the agency who made it, fire yourselves.
It was vicious. Not one month later, Gap had ditched the logo and gone back to the original, tail between their legs. The lesson? You can’t control your fans/followers/customers. Social media can feel like a magic solution to brand development and awareness – but remember what you’re really getting into. You are entering in to actual dialogue with your actual consumers – and you have to treat it that way. You can’t manipulate them, you can’t control them, and it’s often very hard to predict them. Sometimes it may seem like they’re not paying attention, and that you can post whatever you want to create whatever image you want for your company. Before you post without considering your audience, remember the New Gap Logo.
P.S. Ready for me to contradict myself? Think about this – Gap hasn’t gotten publicity like this in years. Every major online news source is taking about it. Their social media accounts have exploded with activity – yeah, most of it was negative. But the conversation is, without a doubt, rolling. And Gap’s tried to roll with the punches – “we hear you, you don’t like the logo, we changed it back. We’re listening to you.” If Gap’s sales surges this month, who’s laughing then? Then again, maybe the brand will never recover and the New Gap Logo will be their enduring shame. You just never know in this business. And THAT, friends, is my lesson in social media for the day.