September 27, 2013

Yahoo’s New Logo – Not So Awesome

Yahoo’s New Logo – Not So Awesome

Yahoo! spent the month of August having fun with logos; it switched up its purple, exclamation pointed badge every day between August 5th and September 4th, and unveiled its newest logo incarnation…

[Drum roll]

A purple, exclamation-pointed badge that looks like a Microsoft Word font. Really?

The previous Yahoo logo was fun, distinct and evocative of the kind of whimsical personality for which the brand is famous. The new logo has eliminated nearly all whimsy, and replaced it with a cool and (except for the exclamation point and the purpleness) ambiguous crest.

Apparently, the purpose of the logo change was to stick it to Google, but honestly, any fight with Google is cartoonishly absurd – like when Foghorn Leghorn holds a little rooster at arm’s length while the foe desperately tries to take a swing at him.

We’re not the first design firm to take issue with the logo – it’s hard to ignore the unveiling of a new design that turns out to be a huge bore – but it does give us the opportunity to discuss the appropriate times a brand should consider a logo redo.

When Your Logo Is Offensively Ugly

We all have to start somewhere; maybe you got your nephew – who personalized his skateboard so effectively – to design your logo in the early days and now your brand has outgrown it slightly. Whatever the reason, your logo looks like this,  and now you have to take immediate action.

Since you clearly failed to employ an expert design firm in the beginning stages, now is the time to correct that initial error. You’re going to want some kind of professional guidance steering you in a healthy and productive direction. C’mon, you have your sales projections and your vendors to deal with – just sit back, relax and let someone else cope with effectively capturing your brand message through bold visual expression. A new logo should represent a new era in your brand culture, not just the fact that you were bored with the old design.

When Your Brand Is Evolving

So, you’ve decided to market your products to an entirely new demographic, and/or you’ve come up with a new line of cleansing creams for Chihuahuas. You’ve entered a new era, and this should be immediately apparent to the consumer. However brilliant or misguided your decision may be, you will still want your logo to reflect your new brand character.

When Your Brand Is in Need of a Resurrection

If your brand is stagnant and has been for a while, then a logo freshening might be in order – along with a freshening of perhaps everything else with regard to your brand. This occasionally happens with an old and respected brand that everyone has forgotten needs an injection of life into its inanimate veins. Everyone knew Old Spice – we just didn’t really buy it anymore. Then came 2010, when the brand began an aggressive and youth-oriented remarketing campaign. Now, well… who wouldn’t want to be the handsome, witty and alps-scaling Old Spice Guy?

When Your Brand Is in Need of Damage Control

Sometimes, previous management can run a business’ reputation directly into the ground. When this happens, it’s important that the brand distances itself from all of the past dubious decisions and wipe the slate clean, so to speak. Logo association is a powerful thing; in order to salvage some measure of respect from a tainted brand, you have to give the new regime a definite personality and aesthetic. The logo is the introduction to the brand itself – the face of the product – and modifying it is an effective tool in recreating an identity when necessary.

So, what have we learned today? We learned to not really pay attention to any supposedly earth-shattering announcements from Yahoo, since they will invariably involve the unveiling of something intensely boring. We learned that a logo change should have a specific goal behind it. We learned that a new logo is rather like a makeover that alters both the aesthetic and the soul of the brand. Most importantly, we learned that even a semi-ancient brand like Old Spice can re-achieve relevance with a brand-spanking new badge and a muscled football player trapped in a snow globe.


by Kevin Smith
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

We use a strategic combination of market research, design, and consumer testing to solve complex brand problems more effectively, create differentiation, and forge more meaningful connections with customers.

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