Lessons to Learn from the Yahoo Logo Redesign
By now you’ve probably heard (or seen) that Yahoo unveiled a new logo—its fi...
problem is that the vast majority of people don’t know the story behind the design.
Asking the general public for feedback...
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Lessons to Learn from the Yahoo Logo Redesign

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By now you’ve probably heard (or seen) that Yahoo unveiled a new logo—its first in nearly 20 years. This unveiling caused quite the media frenzy—both social and traditional—including the media articles below:

Testing times for Marissa Mayer as Yahoo’s new logo falls flat (Financial Times)
I’ve lived a day with the new Yahoo logo, and I’m going crazy (CNET)
Did Marissa Mayer Pick the Wrong Yahoo Logo? (Mashable)
Yahoo logo has little to shout about, expert says (San Francisco Chronicle)
New Yahoo logo looks remarkably like old Yahoo logo (Fox News)
The Logo Wears Prada — Yahoo’s Latest Brand Is Skinny and Stark, With ! Intact (AllThingsD)

As I looked at the new logo, I had a lot of questions, but I mainly kept asking myself, “Why was Yahoo updating/redesigning its logo?”

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Lessons to Learn from the Yahoo Logo Redesign

  1. 1. Lessons to Learn from the Yahoo Logo Redesign By now you’ve probably heard (or seen) that Yahoo unveiled a new logo—its first in nearly 20 years. This unveiling caused quite the media frenzy—both social and traditional—including the media articles below: • • • • • • Testing times for Marissa Mayer as Yahoo’s new logo falls flat (Financial Times) I’ve lived a day with the new Yahoo logo, and I’m going crazy (CNET) Did Marissa Mayer Pick the Wrong Yahoo Logo? (Mashable) Yahoo logo has little to shout about, expert says (San Francisco Chronicle) New Yahoo logo looks remarkably like old Yahoo logo (Fox News) The Logo Wears Prada — Yahoo’s Latest Brand Is Skinny and Stark, With ! Intact (AllThingsD) As I looked at the new logo, I had a lot of questions, but I mainly kept asking myself, “Why was Yahoo updating/redesigning its logo?” There’s more to it than just a logo A logo is a cornerstone of a company’s brand; it should be tightly tied to the brand’s promise and essence. But, at the same time, when it comes to redesigning a brand, the logo is actually only one important step in a much bigger process. It’s not just about the logo—that’s part of the aesthetics or what’s on the surface—it’s about your brand; what your company stands for and how you communicate that to your customers. Another way to look at it is to see branding as storytelling. A redesign should be done in concert with the bigger brand story. For Yahoo, there doesn’t seem to be a story associated with the redesign. In “Geeking Out on the Logo,” the Tumblr blog post by CEO Marissa Mayer where the logo was launched, she talked about wanting a fresher look for the logo, but that’s really not a reason to redesign a logo. It sounds more like she just wanted to put her own stamp on it. The new logo doesn’t do anything to tell customers why Yahoo is meaningful (or should be meaningful) in our lives. Instead, it seems to reinforce that Yahoo is not able to define itself and has lost its way. The good and bad of public consumption In August, as part of the redesign, Yahoo launched its “30 days of change” campaign, which shared iterations of the Yahoo logo. While interesting and definitely social, the
  2. 2. problem is that the vast majority of people don’t know the story behind the design. Asking the general public for feedback on the logo is fine but Yahoo needed to recognize that feedback is most definitely subjective. The public wouldn’t have any of the insights into the foundational work behind the logo. Again, from a social standpoint, this approach is great as it gets people talking and can give you valuable insights into the public’s pulse, but that chatter can be short-lived. Logo Redesign 101 Be meticulous about how you launch a new logo. From the strategic to the tactical aspects of brand management, take the time to get it right (or partner with an outside firm that has branding capabilities), as your diligence will pay off in the end. An effective brand launch and logo design demands strategic research, consumer insight and building around your unique brand story. Also remember that there’s an emotional tie to logos, especially for consumer brands, so any change will be highly scrutinized. In this day of 24x7x365 social media, people now have a platform to voice their thoughts and feelings. When people see a new logo like Yahoo’s, they think about their personal tie to the brand and what it is or is not doing for them. For example, see a sample of nine major brand’s logo changes over the years and the feedback these logos received upon unveiling. Whether Yahoo’s new logo sticks and gets accepted by the masses or whether Yahoo goes back to the drawing board, remains to be seen. Mayer did leave the door open to future changes (possibly in case public response was not what Yahoo has expected?). She noted in her Tumblr post that the company is “likely to make small iterative changes.” To me, this logo redesign seems superficial and whimsical. It says that Yahoo doesn’t know its past nor its future, and that the company is adrift. What does the Yahoo logo say to you? Do you like the new logo? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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