Recent Logo Disasters Prove Customers are Emotionally Invested in Your Brand

By BKV in Design on October 27th, 2011

What if your company put a ridiculous amount of time and money into designing its new logo only to find out your customers hated it?

This recently happened to not one, but three major brands.

Just four days after Gap announced its new logo was in fact legitimate (and not a media stunt) on Facebook, consumers flooded Gap's Facebook, Twitter and website pages to express vehement disgust for the new logo. According to Gap's president, the company listened and changed it back. Marka Hansen of Gap North America distributed a press release acknowledging that the switch was "a mistake" and the company would keep the existing Gap logo.

Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice experienced similar fallout from their 2009 package redesign. Their situation was even worse because PepsiCo (who owns Tropicana) lost $137 million dollars between January and February of 2009 because their unit sales dropped. Tropicana looked at the numbers, said "the tribe has spoken" and scrapped their new design. They reinstated their previous (more recognizable) packaging.

Finally, Sun Chips recently saw sales decline rapidly when they introduced their new "biodegradable" bag. Consumers complained that it was too noisy. They didn't care that it helped save the earth; they just wanted to snack in peace and quiet. I love Sun Chips. When picking up a bag at the grocery store - it "screamed" at me. I put it back down.

All of these examples prove just how emotionally invested consumers are in your brand - and how quickly companies will go to scrap a million-dollar, vested strategy to keep their customers happy. You can spend millions of dollars on multiple concepts, focus groups, and analysis, but once you push "go" you'd better be ready to fully commit - or (in these cases) hit the "eject" button. For the first time in history, social media presents consumers with an opportunity to openly and honestly voice their opinion with when you alter your brand or product.

Would you do what Gap and Tropicana did? If so, how long would you wait before hitting the "eject" button? Gap waited a mere four days whereas Tropicana waited two months while watching their sales nosedive.

Here is how you can avoid contemplating the "abort" button. Use social media to communicate with your customers as soon as you are serious about changing your brand. Engage them, present what you are thinking, and give them the opportunity to weigh in on the new design(s). Not only will this give them a sense of ownership, but it will strengthen your relationship because they'll feel you CARE about what they think. They'll light up the message boards with honest feedback, enjoy being part of the process, and feel flattered that their opinion matters.

I speculate many consumers didn't like Gap, Tropicana or Sun Chips redesigns because they didn't feel included. Your brand is something that consumers identify and connect with. You've spent money on branding and advertising to win consumers and earn their trust. You can further strengthen it by involving them in the redesign. Tell them, "we're going to go on a re-branding journey; we'd like you to come along for the ride and tell us what you think." While you cannot please everyone at your party, at least you sent them an invitation.