The unveiling of Yahoo’s new logo last week was not just about aesthetics. It was a campaign by the company to shore up employee morale and reboot itself after a rather long run of misfortune. The month-long logo campaign, aptly titled “30 Days of Change,” was therefore taken by the media and blogosphere to be a symbol of what Yahoo is doing, and as an opportunity to grade the success (or lack thereof) of CEO Marissa Mayer. Before we get to the big-picture meaning of the logo for Yahoo! as a company, let’s take a look at what all the hoopla is about.
“30 Days of Change” started it all
On Aug 7, 2013, Yahoo’s Chief Marketing Officer Kathy Savitt kicked off the logo carnival with the announcement that a new Yahoo! logo would be unveiled in a month. “Over the past year, there’s been a renewed sense of purpose and progress at Yahoo!, and we want everything we do to reflect this spirit of innovation. While the company is rapidly evolving, our logo — the essence of our brand — should too,” said Savitt.
To hammer home the point and warm up the audience, they started things off with 30 days of change (#dailylogo) featuring a different variation of the old logo released every day over the next 30 days.
The 30th and final logo of this campaign was unveiled on Sept 4, 2013 as Yahoo’s new logo. At this point, CEO Marissa Mayer stepped in and took personal responsibility for the logo, for better or for worse.
In a Tumblr post, Mayer implies that this logo change is a big deal, any which way you look at it. Yahoo! hasn’t changed its logo in 18 years, which is a long time in the corporate world and an eternity for Internet companies. Mayer also pointed out the change wasn’t undertaken lightly, because the Yahoo! brand, as represented by the iconic purple logo with an exclamation, is worth $10 billion.
Entire logo prepared over a single weekend
So they kept it whimsical, retained the purple color and the exclamation, and the letters are still all uppercase. They did toy around with the font. Also, the exclamation point is now tilted nine degrees. Mayer says she joined the design team to get the new logo done from start to finish over a single weekend. You can read her full post or watch the video to understand how they developed the design.
One thing worth mentioning is that Mayer says they wanted to do something playful with the OO’s. If you see the logo on the Yahoo! website, the exclamation skittles across the bottom of the OO’s to the top and across to the other side. This is the kind of thing that Google, Mayer’s former employer, does very well. They regularly come up with these wacky logos for holidays and special events where the OO’s are used very creatively.
Cosmetic change which remains unnoticed
As far as critiquing the new Yahoo! logo is concerned, the worst that can be said about it is that it is indeed a cosmetic change which a lot of users will never notice.
In fact, Bloomberg says that “Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” has new competition from “rearranging the fonts in your logo.” The article says that when a company in trouble starts fixating on trivia, it’s a sign that they don’t know what to do about the big problems.
TechCrunch Founder Michael Arrington says in his blog that “I never thought a logo could be so singularly uninspiring.” He also calls it boring and banal and a “great big bag of fail.” He does add afterwards that it looks better on the Yahoo! site, which is true.
Forbes says “Yahoo’s logotype project is like a lunar mission that suddenly finds itself landed in Peru, Illinois.”
The consensus of opinion is that Yahoo’s logo change isn’t fooling anyone. The company has problems, and they’re not going away just because of a change in font in the logo.
To be fair, the Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO) stock price has doubled in the year since Mayer took over in July 2012. That gives her some leeway to focus on trivia, if they think it’s going to be helpful. Notwithstanding what the media says, the logo campaign hasn’t resulted in a negative reaction in the market over the past month or since the new logo was unveiled last week, so no harm done. Whether Yahoo! manages to build on it and extract some positive momentum remains to be seen.