As Published Today In Chain Store Age at:

New media lessons from the Gap logo fiasco

The Gap recently learned the painful lesson of today’s new media world: It is fast and furious. Following consumer outcry in social media channels, the brand reversed its proposed logo change. Many questions arise from this: Did this $3 billion dollar corporation spend the same time on their brand as they would changing a supply chain element? Did the corporation review and test the logo enough to not change it back simply on a whim? Many unanswered questions will harm the brand, regardless of their move back to the original logo.

One wonders, did Gap underestimate the immediacy of social media impact, and fail to understand that today, everyone has a voice, and everyone is counted. Today’s media tools mean brands must become accustomed to a rolling press conference, and just as they need to manage reporters, so too must they manage online social media elements. The days of breaking an exclusive with one outlet are well behind us.

Social media today is open forum for questions to be asked, and issues to be raised, and clearly speaking, they did. Did the ad executives (both on the agency and in-house side) speak to any actual consumers? People will always comment on the new and Gap should have recognized and proactively managed that process online. Will retailer now go in and comment on every single criticism of blog posts that exists?

In a brand’s shelf life, it is vital to make milestone “stops” along the path and consider strategies, requiring budget, effort and C-suite attention. Such milestones should include periodic research efforts, focus groups, Q-sort research, case studies and surveys — diverse manners to analyze and evaluate campaigns and PR plans. The input you receive through these initiatives is invaluable and can sometimes set the divide between a successful campaign and total failure. Social media today is vital for brands to interact with consumers and to listen to consumers.

Brands today with the proper tools in place have even figured out how to generate sales from social media. But one wonders, without tools in place, do brands such as the Gap even know if it’s their consumer they are talking to online?

Perhaps the lesson can be that Gap feared its new logo would lead to drastically reduced sales as Tropicana experienced a few years ago, or maybe the lesson is the speed: What took 2 months only a few years ago, takes a week now.

Gap isn’t the first company to deal with the online social media crisis, and they won’t be the last. The question is: Will other brands react, pay more attention, and contribute more time and money to the arena, and not make similar mistakes?

Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.