The Gap only debuted its unfortunate new logo a few days ago, but the criticism has been coming fast and furious. Gawker calls it one of “branding’s greatest misses,” Ad Age has posted a meta-analysis of the negative reactions, and it’s even inspired Craplogo.me, which allows you to Gap-ify (or is that “crap-ify”?) a word of your choosing. But probably our favorite spin-off so far is @gaplogo, a surly Twitter account that hits back at the haters. Some recent wisdom: “People, I may be ‘ugly’ but I think we can all agree that spec work/crowd-sourcing isn’t the solution. What is the solution? More scotch.”
To celebrate this epic failure of design sensibility, we bring you a recent history of regrettable moments in corporate rebranding. Tell us which you think is the worst, and add your own (least) favorite examples, in the comments.
Image via Design Crit
Sometimes, redesigned packaging is so bad it actually dramatically decreases sales. That’s what happened last year, when Tropicana abandoned their classic orange-with-cartoon straw image for slick, sans serif lettering and a tasteful goblet of OJ. Sales of the Pure Premium line saw a 20 percent dip in under two months, and the company was forced to reinstate the old packaging. We doubt they’ll try anything new for quite a while.
Image via Brand Infection
Perhaps, at this point, it would be illuminating to point out that Tropicana is actually owned by Pepsi. So it seems the entire mega-corp’s design decision-making skills are suspect. Back in 2008, as a response to a decline in sales, the brand allocated $1.2 billion to rebranding. Ad Age describes the thinking behind the new logo: “The white band in the middle of the logo will now loosely form a series of smiles. A ‘smile’ will characterize brand Pepsi, while a ‘grin’ is used for Diet Pepsi and a ‘laugh’ is used for Pepsi Max.”
While Pepsi is still using this family of logos, it’s certainly endured its share of criticism. Many critics saw it as a cynical attempt to co-opt Barack Obama’s campaign logo, and others thought it looked like either an obese person’s stomach or butt hanging over a T-shirt and jeans. For our part, we just hope they didn’t spend much money on what amounts to the minor repositioning of a white curve.
Image via Logo DesignWorks
You kind of have to feel for AOL: Their entire business model kind of fell apart when all but the oldest and most remote internet users have moved on to cable or DSL. So it’s not surprising that as times have changed and they’ve made the move from service provider to content hub, they’ve run through several logos. This one, which appeared about a year ago (and is part of a series whose backgrounds also include a goldfish, a hand doing metal devil horns, and some other meaningless scribbles, just seemed like a desperate grab at coolness. Lower-case letters! An unnecessary period! You kids are totally feeling this, right?
Alas, despite our gripes, AOL (or is that Aol.?) is still using the new logo, with a few decent (but a whole lot of splotchy) new backgrounds.
Image via Naked NY
In another bad 2009 move, Kraft kicked its classic logo to the curb in favor of a wordy design punctuated with some kind of gratuitous flower/shooting star thing. For one thing, the obsession with lower-case letters has got to go. For another, there was nothing wrong with the bold, simple, original logo. In fact, a company that sells America’s favorite low-budget mac and cheese should see the value in comfort and nostalgia. Oh, and maybe they shouldn’t be copying their logo from Yoplait?
Weirdly, it seems the new design has been tweaked somewhat since it debuted, although the updated version includes all of the originally annoying elements, plus even more lower-case lettering.
Well, at least it’s honest. Earlier this year, MTV updated its logo to reflect the decline of its programming. We loved the original design, which last through three decades and reminded us of the New Wave that was popular when the network debuted. This version is bolder and cleaner, without all the endearing scruff of its predecessor. Plus, the black space in the new logo was designed to be filled by a rotating array of images from MTV series — including pics of Snooki and The Situation. Like we don’t see enough of them already!
Thankfully, at least the default logo on MTV’s homepage is a black-on-white version of the redesign that doesn’t include a photo of Speidi.