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Front Page Talking Points

FOR THE WEEK OF OCT. 18, 2010

Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.

Gap chain returns to square one, literally, after howls over logo switch

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1.gifPick any business or sports logo from a news photo or ad and tell what values and emotions it brings to mind.

2.gifNow look at this paper's banner or Page One nameplate. Does it reflect tradition, authority, a modern feel? How?

3.gifGraphic design gives pages of this publication different "personalities," especially on section fronts or landing pages. Talk about design elements that set feature pages apart from newsier ones.

The Gap clothing stores, which try to offer popular styles that fit well, slipped up with an ill-tailored alteration to its own logo. The familiar brand symbol showing the white-lettered company name inside a navy blue square, was changed to a new typeface with black letters on a white background. The only box was a small light blue one above the last letter. The attempt to look more modern was yanked in less than a week after an outcry on Twitter, Facebook and blogs from customers and others.

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The casual wear company, which hadn't announced the abrupt switch, acknowledged it should have asked for fans' comments. "We've heard loud and clear that you don't like the new logo," a spokeswoman posted on Facebook, where Gap has more than 700,000 fans. "We've learned a lot from the feedback."
The stumble also reinforces broader business lessons about social media power, brand loyalty and the emotional impact of logos -- originally a Greek word for "meaning" or "thought." Scott Chapman, a branding adviser in Toronto, comments: "They severely mismanaged the change by failing to really explain it to the public."

Creating an identity image for a company, team, newspaper or school involves art, psychology and marketing skills. Color, shape, type and other style elements combine to evoke a mood or emotional response. In this social media age, brands involve consumers in some decisions -- as when Doritos let fans create and vote on Super Bowl commercials this year. But a logo change left up to the crowd is rare. Apple also provoked a backlash by trying to change its logo in 2003. The short video below shows how other well-known corporate symbols have evolved, including a 2008 update by Walmart.

Gap executive says: "There may be a time to evolve our logo, but if and when that time comes, we'll handle it in a different way. . . . We recognize that we missed the opportunity to engage with the online community." -- Marka Hansen, North American president

Designer says: "There's far more to logo design than just what looks good at first, and even third, glance." -- Harry Beckwith, Minneapolis branding expert

Blogger says: "Successful management of the [logo] change process is just as important as the redesign itself -- a lesson Gap had to learn the hard way." -- Michael Walsh, assistant professor of marketing at West Virginia University

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2014
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