Defying gravity: The customer isn’t always right

GAP abandoned its new logo after just one week, caving into a sea of complaints on its Facebook page. Whatever you think of the new logo–I think it’s pretty weak–or the way they handled the launch–in a word, poorly–the notion that customers get to vote on key strategy elements is fraught with danger.

gap logos

As someone who preaches about leveraging customer insight to drive growth strategies, I am hardly going to suggest that companies stop listening to consumers. But there is a time and place for voting.  There is a time and place for crowd-sourcing.   Critical strategic branding decisions?  Eh, not so much.

Put to a vote do you think consumers would have chosen Blackberry or Pocket-Link (the original name) as the name for a revolutionary new phone?

How many customers would have thought Google was a compelling name for a web browser?

Most consumers, when given the choice, stick with the familiar.   And in doing so they get it wrong–for themselves and for the companies who seek to bring innovation to the marketplace.

Leaders need to resist the gravitational pull of the status quo.  Leaders need to listen to consumers as part of a set of inputs.  And then they must remember that remarkable trumps the familiar every time.

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2 thoughts on “Defying gravity: The customer isn’t always right

  1. Great thoughts, Steven. But be careful: You’re comparing how people think of a logo to how people think of a name. Would people have voted for the name “Gap” for a clothing line? Probably not. I think the danger with the re-brand approach is Gap’s slightly apparent effort at crowd-sourcing and spec work – seeing if the masses can do better. To me, that’s where the danger lies.

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