While visiting family recently, I brought up the story about the new Gap logo debacle. (In case you haven’t heard, the Gap recently presented a new logo on their website that was, to be kind, very poorly received. In a failed attempt to recover from this,  Gap then announced a contest to design a new logo. It was open to all, and didn’t offer any monetary compensation. During our conversation, I was taken aback by one comment in particular — Why do they need a new logo, we all know who they are and what they’re about anyway? I responded as best I could at the time, but for some reason, the question kept gnawing at me.

The Gap may have had a perfectly good reason. I don’t know the specifics. But its decision raises a very good question. Why should a company — particularly one that is well-known, enjoys a good reputation, and continues to offer the same kinds of  goods or services — look to change their logo or even their entire brand, even if the logo is not outdated and is still representative of the company’s direction?

There are several good reasons why would a company might change its logo, even if things seem to be moving along nicely. On a practical level, the logo may not work well across mediums. This can be particularly true if the logo was developed before the advent of the web and mobile applications.

Internally, a new logo and brand can reinvigorate and add cohesion to a company’s workforce that has grown complacent. It can also reinforce the principal that everyone is working for the betterment of  the company — not their department or group.

Externally, a new logo can reintroduce a company to its customer base. It can announce to the world that it is not standing still,  but rather, it is a vital, forward-looking organization.

Companies with ideas of being acquired may want to polish up their look to be more attractive to investors, since a brand says a lot about what an organization is, what it stands for, and how professional and organized it is.

The ramifications of changing a logo should be considered long and hard before any decision is made. It doesn’t seem that the Gap did that, because if they had, I don’t think they would have changed course and ultimately reversed their decision as quickly as they did.