You know the story: Gap changes their logo, the public hates it, and then Gap says they’ll crowdsource an alternative.  But, in the end, Gap just decides to stick with their original logo after all, claiming that they “learned a lot” from the public’s feedback.

Is this proof of the branding power that connected customers wield, or was it all just a social media ruse intended to garner Gap some fast & cheap equity in the pop culture conversation?

Chiquita tried a similar crowdsourced logo experiment, but they were spared the negative backlash because their crowdsourcing initiative was the whole point, rather than a hastily-concocted remedy.

And when The Simpsons had their beloved intro sequence “hijacked” by pop artist Bansky, the web was afire with controversy over just how complicit Fox was in the skewering of its own cash cow.  Now that the video has been pulled from YouTube due to a “copyright claim with Twentieth Century Fox,” that controversy will only expand.

Are each of these examples conversation-worthy?  Sure.  Controversial?  Perhaps.  But what do each of these examples say about the equity brands are placing in their public images?

I Am What You Say I Am

A logo represents your brand.  If you hand that logo to your audience, you’re empowering them to redefine your brand from the outside-in.  And while that may be good for temporary buzz, it misses the larger point:

Your brand is ultimately defined by its actions.

Paying lip service to the concept of “gathering social feedback” through crowdsourced logo stunts may get you a few headlines in Gawker, but it won’t dramatically affect the way the public perceives the meaning of your brand.  Except, possibly, to make your company look conniving, clueless, manipulative, disingenuous or simply desperate.

Are you holding your brand hostage for the sake of cultivating some social currency?

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