Marka Hansen: The Gap’s New Logo


President of Gap North America writes about Gap’s new logo on the Huffington Post.

Marka Hansen: The Gap’s New Logo.

Needless to say, as with IKEA‘s adoption of Verdana a while ago, this is a controversial change. The old Gap used an all-caps ultra-narrow serif font against a blue background. The new logo uses… Helvetica. All right, it’s Helvetica Nieue, but that hardly makes a difference.

I’m not a fan of Gap clothing, but I liked the logo. It’s quintessentially American, and in many ways that’s what The Gap sells. They sell a slice of a lifestyle you might glimpse in an imported US magazine. I understand why a company might want to update its logo, but to go for the International design style is to massively miss the appeal of the brand. In doing so, The Gap makes itself generic, invisible.

What makes me laugh is that (a) they paid somebody to come up with … Helvetica. What they could have done is just open a word processing document on a Mac and used the, you know, default font; and (b) they think it looks “modern” – which is a joke, given Helvetica’s 19th century looks. (I’m with Bruno Maag all the way on this.)

Graphic Designers seem to be complaining about the gradient-filled blue square behind the p, and some of them don’t seem to mind the Helvetica. This is like watching a terrible movie and complaining about the seats. All I can say is, never hire a designer who likes Helvetica. As Bruno Maag has said, if you’re going to go Swiss, then at least use Univers; personally, I’m a fan of Frutiger.

To me, this seems like a desperate company that used to have a strong lead against its competitors trying to go all “me too”. So they looked down the high street and saw Superdry and American Apparel and decided that they’d have some of that Helvetica action. This is like Sony giving up and making an iPod dock. Oh, look, they already did.

As John Gruber at Daring Fireball says, sell your stock.