Brain Gap: NeuroFocus Study Reveals What Went Wrong With the Gap's New Brand Logo

By Neurofocus, PRNE
Sunday, October 17, 2010

World's Largest Neuromarketing Company Applied Neuroscience Knowledge to Discover the Subconscious Reasons Beneath the Consumer Backlash

BERKELEY, California, October 18, 2010 - On the spectrum of corporate rolls of the dice, altering an iconic logo
representing a brand that has been a consumer favorite for generations is a
high-risk proposition. The Gap is the latest company to confront that fact.

What went awry with the Gap's recently-introduced logo? NeuroFocus, the
world's leading neuromarketing company, went looking for the most accurate
and reliable answers in the best place to find them: the deep subconscious
level of the brain. The company conducted neurological testing of Gap
customers to discover why the new execution failed to attract them - and in
some cases earned negative reactions.

In addition to the EEG-based brainwave activity measurements and eye
tracking data it captured and analyzed in its study, NeuroFocus cited six
principal Neurological Best Practices that the new logo violated. These Best
Practices have been extracted from the thousands of neurological tests that
the company has conducted worldwide.

Topline Study Findings:

Subconscious Response Testing: The Key Role That 'Stylish' and 'Novelty'

NeuroFocus' study captured consumers' subconscious responses and
evaluated them to reveal the effectiveness of both the original and the new
logo. NeuroFocus scores responses across seven core categories: three primary
NeuroMetrics of Attention, Emotional Engagement, and Memory Retention. Those
are combined to arrive at an Overall Effectiveness score.

From the three primary NeuroMetrics, the company derives three more
Marketplace Performance Indicators (MPIs) of Purchase Intent, Novelty, and


This MPI is an especially critical metric for the studies that NeuroFocus
conducts for branding projects, new product introductions, packaging designs,
and logos. Neuroscientific research shows that the human brain craves and
seeks what is new.

EEG recordings revealed that the new logo did not register any
scientifically significant increase in the Novelty metric.

"Our counsel to companies is: when there is a redesign of a brand, an
identity, a logo, a proposition, a tagline, a package or a product feature,
such a design must deliver a scientifically significant and substantive
change in the Novelty metric," said Dr. A. K. Pradeep, Chief Executive
Officer of NeuroFocus. "In this instance, the Gap's new logo failed to do
that. Our recommendation would have been: without a significant increase in
Novelty, this redesign will not succeed."


NeuroFocus utilized its Deep Subconscious Response methodology to tease
out consumers' precognitive perceptions of core brand attributes associated
with the Gap brand. In this study, three attributes were tested to determine
if the new logo produced any neurologically significant "brand lift" over the
original design.

The three attributes tested were: active, stylish, and authentic.

For 'active' and 'authentic', the results showed no scientifically
significant increase between the original logo and the new logo.

"This is a red flag, because it reveals that the new design is not
contributing to heightened consumer perceptions of core brand attributes,"
Dr. Pradeep said.

Moreover, for the 'stylish' attribute, the study results showed that
while the original logo scored at an exceptional level, the new logo failed
to register at all for this critical attribute.

"When we saw this specific result from our testing, we were not surprised
by the consumer backlash," Dr. Pradeep said. "With the new design, the Gap
lost critical ground at the deep subconscious level for this essential brand
attribute. For a retail apparel marketer seeking to reach and motivate their
target audience, this loss of brand value in the 'stylish' category marks a
major cause for concern."

Neurological Best Practices:

In addition to its brainwave activity measurements, as the NeuroFocus
scientific team reviewed the new logo, they recognized that the design
violated six basic Neurological Best Practices.

Dr. Pradeep outlined these six Neurological Best Practices that the Gap

    - Overlays Equal Overlooked: Neuroscience research reveals that when
      words overlay images, the brain tends to ignore or overlook the word in
      favour of focusing on the image. "In the new logo, the 'p' superimposed
      over the blue square is essentially bypassed by the brain; the brain
      tends to ignore the word in favor of the image. Not a good thing when
      that's your brand name."
    - Sharp Edges Unsettle the Subconscious: "Forcing the brain to view a
      sharply-angled box behind the letter 'p' provokes what neuroscience
      calls an 'avoidance response'. The hard line cuts into the rounded
      shape of the letter. We are hard-wired to avoid sharp edges - in
      nature, they can present a threat. Our so-called modern brains are
      actually 100,000 years old, and they retain this primordial reaction."
    - Interesting Fonts Work: Neuroscience research has shown that the
      subconscious prefers fonts that are a little unusual. The Gap's
      original typeface was just different enough that it tended to stand out
      to the brain amidst the clutter of other corporate IDs. "Being a little
      bit 'funky' appeals to the brain, and the Gap's original design
      accomplished that by employing an interesting font. Our study confirms
      that, and shows why 'boring' is bad for business when it comes to
    - High/Low Contrast: "The original logo presented the brand name in
      sharp, strong contrast - white letters 'pop' against the blue
      background, and the brain loves pop-outs. Conversely, the new logo has
      the 'p' losing that contrast against the blue box. Again, the brain
      simply tends not to register the letter well as a result."
    - Stronger Semantic Content: "In the new version, the capitalized 'G'
      followed by the lower case 'a' and 'p' cause the brain to read the
      three letters as part of a word, and therefore seek semantic content.
      In the original execution, all three letters are capitalized, making
      them more logo-like than word-like, which is what you want for a logo."
    - Lost Legacy: "The Gap sells a lot more than just blue jeans today, but
      relegating the blue of the original logo to minor 'legacy' status in
      the new version loses that essential connection in the consumer's
      subconscious to the brand's core origins. We always emphasize to
      companies: depict your source. When it comes to products, the brain
      seeks to know from whence you came. Instead of honoring their past,
      unfortunately the Gap relegated that past to ower relevance."

"The Gap's experience simply reinforces the critical importance of the
two questions that brand marketers should ask before moving ahead with
something as central as a logo redesign," Dr. Pradeep added. "They are: does
the new design violate any Neurological Best Practices? And does the new
design build upon the existing brand attributes that are identified through
the Brand Essence Framework? For companies seeking to avoid costly and
all-too-public mistakes that can erode brand image and brand loyalty and
impact purchase intent, measuring consumers' responses at the subconscious
level of the brain is the best means to ensure success. Neuroscience proves
that attempting to divine accurate and reliable answers to these questions
through articulated responses is prone to failure. 'The brain makes
behavior', and we applaud the Gap for recognizing their error and correcting
it so that consumers will once again respond to this iconic brand in a
positive way."

Link to original/new Gap logos:

Dr. Pradeep is the author of the new best-seller The Buying Brain:
Secrets for Selling to the Subconscious Mind (,
available through (
Selling-Subconscious/dp/0470601779), Barnes&
78/?itm=1&USRI=the+buying+brain), (, and
800CEORead (

More information about "The Buying Brain" can be accessed by visiting the
book's Facebook page ( and Twitter

NeuroFocus Methodology

NeuroFocus employs high-density arrays of medical grade EEG sensors to
measure across the full brain. Each sensor captures brainwave activity at
2,000 times a second. The company also applies eye-tracking technology to
identify the location of visual focus at the pixel level. A third measurement
of GSR (galvanic skin response) is also made, to further confirm degrees of
emotional engagement.

About NeuroFocus

The world's leading neuromarketing firm, NeuroFocus
( brings advanced neuroscience knowledge and expertise
to the worlds of branding, product development and packaging, in-store
marketing, advertising, and entertainment. NeuroFocus clients include Fortune
100 companies across dozens of categories.

Headquartered in the U.S. and operating globally through offices and
NeuroLabs in the UK and Europe, the Asia/Pacific region, Latin America, and
the Middle East, the company leverages Nobel Prize caliber and
Doctorate-level credentials in neuroscience and marketing from the University
of California at Berkeley
, MIT, Harvard, Oxford, Columbia University, and
other leading institutions, combined with executive business management and
consulting experience.

Tom Robbins of NeuroFocus, +1-510-526-9882, mobile, +1-510-367-1920, tom.robbins at

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