The new Gap logo will look positively awesome embroidered above the saggy breast pockets of 3,500 two-sizes-too-big khaki button-downs at a corporate team-building event in a Kansas Sheraton ballroom this winter. But what's the story behind the new look? How did Gap land on a corporate identity that takes us back to the heady design days of Quark 4.0 and the endless debate over Helvetica vs. Stone Serif (vs. Tekton if we're thinking outside the box)?
Here's one theory from deep within the agency trenches:
1) Gap focus-grouped its brand to come up with an "emotional map" of key words like "timeless," "reliable," "unpretentious" and "true blue."
2) Then it RFP'd six design agencies to submit 37 logos each based on these meaningless words.
3) After 1,942 internal meetings gathering invaluable branding input from textile buyers, franchise attorneys and vice presidents of finance, Gap narrowed the choices down to their favorite elements of 16 different logos and asked two of the agencies to create some hybrid logos incorporating these elements for a second round of feedback-gathering, this time in a series of mood boards and adlobs to provide "end-user context."
4) Four days before the scheduled launch of their new brand, Gap decided the new hybrid logos weren't completely following their emotional map, so they panicked and called in a favor from their old agency ... the one they were planning to fire after the new logo was chosen.
5) The call came in at 3:47 pm on a Friday, and all the art directors at the old agency were forced to cancel their weekend plans to come up with a shit-ton more logo ideas by 9:00 am Monday.
6) Gap sat on these new ideas for 17 days while they had an internal reorg.
7) The new vice president of camisoles, inspired by a burst of creativity he felt in a senior staff off-site, came up with the current logo at his dining room table on a Thursday night using the stencils his probably gay son bought to decorate his bedroom walls in Mies van der Rohe quotes and presented it to the board of directors the very next morning ... shrewdly keeping the new vice president of denim and the chief underwear officer—who would just try to sabotage his idea—out of the loop.
8) The board of directors—wisely making branding decisions by committee—voted eleven times and approved the new logo after it was modified to give it a weird footprint that will look clumsy in almost any layout.
9) This dining-room-table story will be enshrined in the annual report and repeated at shareholder meetings for the next 12 years as proof that Gap knows its best ideas come from its most important asset: its people.
(Gap corporate brand guys: Am I close?)