A recent post on Drawar criticizing some designers’ reaction to Gap’s new brand seemed so off-base to me I have to respond. While Scrivs makes some good points about the redesign’s intentions, one paragraph stood out to me:

“I think designers simply want things to look good for good’s sake at times. It’s different when we are talking about industrial design, packaging design or architecture because then aesthetics and function really do play a huge role in how people perceive things. But a logo? Logos can’t be held or manipulated. They are 2D objects on paper that we look at and leave at that.”

I don’t understand how a designer can argue that an object’s appearance doesn’t affect the receiver. If that were the case, we wouldn’t be employed. It makes no difference whether the object is three dimensional or not. We process things visually first and foremost. Consumers are affected by a brand subconsciously; they have no choice in the matter.

The idea that logos are “2D objects on paper that we look at and leave at that” is also extremely narrow-minded. Sure the example is a logo on a screen, but that logo is representative of the identity as a whole. Will it not be reproduced on signage? on clothes? in the exhibit design of the store? Identity design and a company’s logo transcend the paper it’s printed on.

Down the road, that logo will appear in industrial design, packaging design, interior design, web design, and plain-old print design all at once. It falls on that logo to remind consumers of the brand that companies work so hard to create. When a logo doesn’t accurately represent its brand the company sends a mixed message. Sure it might not negatively impact their profits, but it certainly could be strengthened.

I think that is what designers are upset about. We are the people that sweat the small stuff. We don’t ignore a logo’s design because we can get away with it. I for one am glad that my designer peers are outraged and welcome their responses as dialogue. They are passionate about what they do, and they want to talk about the problems with the new identity. Do we not all notice things that could be improved and iterate on them in our minds? Why should we not further this practice and discuss our ideas with our peers?

It’s not about things looking good for good’s sake; it’s about good design down to the last detail.