The social mediasphere can be a cruel place for brands when they make a mistake. American clothing retailer Gap learned that the hard way when it unveiled a new logo on gap.com earlier this week.

The new logo didn’t go over too well and received a hefty dose of criticism on Twitter and in the blogosphere. So yesterday Gap threw in the towel and reverted back to its old logo.

In a message posted on its corporate site yesterday, Gap explained:

At Gap brand, our customers have always come first. We’ve been listening to
and watching all of the comments this past week. We heard them say over and over
again they are passionate about our blue box logo, and they want it back. So
we’ve made the decision to do just that – we will bring it back across all
channels.

Certainly, Gap made the decision many companies would if placed in a similar situation. After all, it’s never fun to see one’s brand criticized publicly, so it was probably fairly easy to throw the new logo in the trash.

But did Gap make the right decision by ditching its new logo? That’s not as easy a question to answer. The reason? It’s not clear that Gap’s customers were actually that upset about the new logo.

Shortly after the social media firestorm began, AdAge retained Ipsos Observer to poll consumers on their reaction to the logo. At more than 1,000 responses, an interesting fact emerged: only 17% of those polled even knew that Gap had posted a new logo. What’s more: 43% of those polled indicated that a new logo wouldn’t influence a buying decision; far fewer — 29% — claimed that a new logo would have such an influence. Of course, we don’t know how many consumers in that group would have been negatively influenced by the Gap logo in the real world.

Obviously, it would not have been advisable for Gap to ignore the strong reactions to its new logo. But at the same time, brands like the Gap might want to reconsider how strongly they react to the reactions, particularly in the social mediasphere, which is, in many if not most cases, hardly a perfect reflection of the mainstream marketplace as a whole.

At the end of the day, brands need to listen. They simply need to make sure they’re listening to the right people. Whether Gap has only time will tell.

Photo credit: SteelNewt via Flickr.