Mind the Gap: PR When Things Go Bad

by coach on October 8, 2010

New logo creates crisis & opportunity

What do you do when things go bad? You can duck and hide. Or, you can respond quickly and turn bad news into good news. That’s great crisis management and it’s what the Gap seems to be doing in response to a noisy,  critical reaction to their new logo.

I like Peter Himmler’s take on the new logo: Gap’s PR Ploy? He notes the negative response to the new  design and that most criticism is coming through social media channels.

Having been through client rebranding many times, there’s no doubt plenty of research was done and focus groups were likely shown samples of the new design. But in an Advertising Age interview, Gap spokeswoman Louise Callagy claims the new logo is the real thing.

Himler suggests this may be a very smart case of “citizen marketing” by tapping into customer evangelists and getting them involved. It may be a very savvy PR strategy and response too!

What makes this case interesting is the company responding so quickly and adeptly to the negative feedback. It quickly decided to ask customers for their ideas for consideration. And by doing so, the company has so far made lemonade from lemons by virtue of quick and proactive response.

If they continue to manage the issue carefully, the PR value of all of the media coverage received will be worth millions of dollars. They couldn’t have asked for a better marketing situation, IF it wasn’t manufactured or manipulated!

As the Gap says on its Facebook page, it’s had the same logo for 20 years. Yes it was time for a change.

So, let’s keep our eyes on how the Gap manages their logo controversy. There will be lots of lessons especially if their public relations strategy backfires on them. Let’s hope not.

Think the Gap is handling things well? We’d enjoy hearing your opinion in comments below. Lots more crisis management and online crisis tips and resources in the PR Library too.

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