Ted Simon Says

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Yahoo logo blueprint from AdAge.com.jpg

There’s been a bit of kerfuffle in the past week regarding Yahoo! and its “new” logo. A former colleague of mine, Larry Popelka, CEO of GameChanger, wrote a nice little piece regarding this “marketing move” on BusinessWeek.com: Risky Business – Yahoo!’s Logo Redesign. I agree with Larry's ultimate point, i.e., that there is little consumer reason for Yahoo! changing its brand presentation and that this logo exercise is a waste of time. But, I get there in a different way. Here’s what Ted Simon Says…

As a consumer brand and tech marketing executive, I fully appreciate and respect the importance of brand, both strategically and in terms of activation (under which redesigning a logo fits). And, as a strategic marketer, I'll also say that strategy should lead execution (again, a logo design fits in the latter).

The most successful evolution of a brand logo is typically associated with a meaningful strategic initiative or shift in the business. For example, Federal Express shifting to FedEx as part of an overall strategic and operational evolution of their business. That move also acknowledged what many (if not most) customers were calling the company already (shortening the name to "FedEx" to save syllables).

This is not to say that Yahoo! should not redesign their brand logo. I think the key point is that it's not clear how that logo redesign effort reflects any change or shift in the company's strategy. Is there a major move taking place in terms of products/services provided, markets served? Is there a major operational or organizational change taking place that needs to be stamped into the minds of the market? Is the brand hopelessly out of touch with the times and in desperate need of update to remain relevant in the current marketplace (see evolution of Quaker Oats over the years)?

Those are STRATEGIC questions or initiatives that should drive a change in a brand logo. I'm not aware that Yahoo! has any such FedEx-like moves in store, although I will allow that the entire effort to bring Yahoo! up off the mat is a major strategic undertaking. Frankly, that's about the only strategic argument that would hold water at this juncture, and I'm not sure that is even a good argument given the issues facing Yahoo! go well beyond a logo.

I say this because the executions do not reflect anything materially or strategically different.The logo designs being posted look little more than alternative typeface treatments of the long-standing logo. There is nothing compelling, newsworthy or breakthrough in the least. Maybe this is because, as reported in Ad Age, the CEO got involved over a 'whole weekend' and worked with a design team on coming up with different options…yes, a 'whole weekend!' But, that’s another kerfuffle for another time…

If Yahoo! were not using this as a PR and buzz-generating event, most of us would not even notice or care (and I'd venture a guess that most consumers won't or don't care, regardless). And, let's be honest...that's what this is really all about. It's about getting noticed. It's more about getting attention, giving media something to write about Yahoo! as part of a corporate marketing effort to raise the relevance and perception of the Yahoo! brand...and ultimately lift analyst/investor perceptions in an effort to boost share price.

Is there any real consumer benefit or need driving a brand logo change for Yahoo!? Nope. Is there a reason why Yahoo! is doing this? Yes (see above). Is it a good idea? IMO, it feels like a waste of time and energy that would be better directed at making and marketing better products. At the end of the day, that's what will matter most.

So, is it a Yahoo! or a Yahuh?...what do you think?