Apparently Gap marketers didn’t pay attention in class. Surely they knew changing an iconic logo was risky business? By now it’s old news that the new Gap logo failed miserably and led to backlash along social media channels and rejection of the logo. Lots of marketing pundits are speculating on why, but NeuroFocus left speculation behind and went straight for the source — the brain.
What went awry with the Gap’s recently-introduced logo? NeuroFocus, the world’s leading neuromarketing company, went looking for the most accurate and reliable answers in the best place to find them: the deep subconscious level of the brain. The company conducted neurological testing of Gap customers to discover why the new execution failed to attract them—and in some cases earned negative reactions.
NeuroFocus used EEG-based brainwave activity measurements and eye tracking data for this study. They found that the new logo scored low on several factors including novelty, and measures relating to “stylishness”. In addition, NeuroFocus identified six neuro no-no’s the new Gap logo violated from their “Neurological Best Practices”.
Neurological Best Practices:
In addition to its brainwave activity measurements, as the NeuroFocus scientific team reviewed the new logo, they recognized that the design violated six basic Neurological Best Practices.
Dr. Pradeep outlined these six Neurological Best Practices that the Gap missed:
- Overlays Equal Overlooked: Neuroscience research reveals that when words overlay images, the brain tends to ignore or overlook the word in favor of focusing on the image. “In the new logo, the ‘p’ superimposed over the blue square is essentially bypassed by the brain; the brain tends to ignore the word in favor of the image. Not a good thing when that’s your brand name.”
- Sharp Edges Unsettle the Subconscious: “Forcing the brain to view a sharply-angled box behind the letter ‘p’ provokes what neuroscience calls an ‘avoidance response’. The hard line cuts into the rounded shape of the letter. We are hard-wired to avoid sharp edges—in nature, they can present a threat. Our so-called modern brains are actually 100,000 years old, and they retain this primordial reaction.”
- Interesting Fonts Work: Neuroscience research has shown that the subconscious prefers fonts that are a little unusual. The Gap’s original typeface was just different enough that it tended to stand out to the brain amidst the clutter of other corporate IDs. “Being a little bit ‘funky’ appeals to the brain, and the Gap’s original design accomplished that by employing an interesting font. Our study confirms that, and shows why ‘boring’ is bad for business when it comes to type.”
- High/Low Contrast: “The original logo presented the brand name in sharp, strong contrast—white letters ‘pop’ against the blue background, and the brain loves pop-outs. Conversely, the new logo has the ‘p’ losing that contrast against the blue box. Again, the brain simply tends not to register the letter well as a result.”
- Stronger Semantic Content: “In the new version, the capitalized ‘G’ followed by the lower case ‘a’ and ‘p’ cause the brain to read the three letters as part of a word, and therefore seek semantic content. In the original execution, all three letters are capitalized, making them more logo-like than word-like, which is what you want for a logo.”
- Lost Legacy: “The Gap sells a lot more than just blue jeans today, but relegating the blue of the original logo to minor ‘legacy’ status in the new version loses that essential connection in the consumer’s subconscious to the brand’s core origins. We always emphasize to companies: depict your source. When it comes to products, the brain seeks to know from whence you came. Instead of honoring their past, unfortunately the Gap relegated that past to lower relevance.”
Dr. Pradeep goes on to say:
“The Gap’s experience simply reinforces the critical importance of the two questions that brand marketers should ask before moving ahead with something as central as a logo redesign,” Dr. Pradeep added. “They are: does the new design violate any Neurological Best Practices? And does the new design build upon the existing brand attributes that are identified through the Brand Essence Framework? For companies seeking to avoid costly and all-too-public mistakes that can erode brand image and brand loyalty and impact purchase intent, measuring consumers’ responses at the subconscious level of the brain is the best means to ensure success. Neuroscience proves that attempting to divine accurate and reliable answers to these questions through articulated responses is prone to failure. ‘The brain makes behavior’, and we applaud the Gap for recognizing their error and correcting it so that consumers will once again respond to this iconic brand in a positive way.”
Link to original/new Gap logos: http://neurofocus.com/images/logos_gap.jpg
Dr. Pradeep is the author of the new best-seller The Buying Brain: Secrets for Selling to the Subconscious Mind