10/15/10

What Defines You - Part 1


Gap recently relaunched themselves with a new logo and in a few short days they changed their minds over the public dislike. Reinventing and rebranding are two terms that are plaguing society at large. If the brand is already in trouble, then a “re” anything won’t do it any good. Especially when it’s a bad one.

I used to do a lot of wood working in High School, and one of the hardest things about any piece of wood was the knots (those little dark circular areas in the wood). The knots were always resistant to sanding, primer and staining…they caused problems. You had to be careful where you cut the wood because you can’t cut very well through a knot. But they often times were the areas that defined the wood, what made it beautiful, what gave it character. The Gap had such a strong logo, such a strong identifiable marker that I can’t re-imagine it without it.

How this translates into real life is the fact that we must be making minor coarse corrections along the way; minor tweaks and adjustments are a good thing. And major adjustments aren’t horrible and can be good. But to “re” something in your life should be a warning sign that something else is wrong. Is this a last ditch effort to succeed? Is this covering up a larger issue? Are you running from something?

Like a magician a “re” anything is an effort to distract your attention from the real problem and redirect somewhere else. In life we go through events and circumstances that act like knots in our lives. They define and give us character. To “re” anything with the knots that define us, is to try and slap a new coat of paint on something to make it seem new. So next time you think you need to “reinvent”, “rebrand”, “relaunch”, “re____________” maybe we should ask ourselves first if the very thing we’re trying to change is the very thing that defines us.

Because when you try and cut through or remove a knot, you risk ruining the whole piece of wood. Which is probably what Gap decided too; they risked too much by redesigning the brand. And like all pieces of wood that need constant sanding, and oiling to maintain their characteristics…we too need to make minor course adjustments and maintenance. 

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