Here's what Yahoo! President & CEO Marissa Meyer had to say about the process; "on a personal level, I love brands, logos, color, design, and, most of all, Adobe Illustrator. I think it’s one of the most incredible software packages ever made. I’m not a pro, but I know enough to be dangerous." ...well this isn't going to end well. Let's see what else she has to say...
"So, one weekend this summer, I rolled up my sleeves and dove into the trenches with our logo design team: Bob Stohrer, Marc DeBartolomeis, Russ Khaydarov, and our intern Max Ma. We spent the majority of Saturday and Sunday designing the logo from start to finish, and we had a ton of fun weighing every minute detail."
Mirth aside, why the new logo? Well, it's no secret Yahoo! have been playing catch up with their more progressive competitors (Google, maybe Bing too) for some time now so something drastic had to give somewhere, and they have identified a brand refresh can lead a change of culture and, in accomplished execution, influence perception. Hey, we're talking about it right so that's a good thing, surely? Yes – today, but what about tomorrow?
The Twitterati has been ablaze with your typical designer mockery, confusion and underwhelming comment aplenty. We're a skeptical and difficult sect to please and to be honest Yahoo! was on a hiding to nothing, especially as they all but uttered "in-house" so were never going to be met well, but we'll overcome that if the result stands up and fights its corner. There is a failure, in this instance.
So what lessons can we learn from it? We tell our clients that is a brand is a sum of its parts; a constantly moving, evolving beast that feeds into itself; more than a logo yes but that's not to diminish the role a good Mark should play. Perhaps then Yahoo! have deemed the logo itself only a mere constitutional part of a bigger picture and not worthy of appropriate investment of time or resources. Time will tell. Like the big eBay personality whitewash from earlier this year, it's certainly a bold move, but unlike eBay,
Yahoo!'s struggling brand needed reinvigorating. Yahoo!'s product exists almost purely online so the makeover that will aim to make users’ experience “more personal and consistent and engaging, featuring a cleaner and more streamlined look, the change modernizes Yahoo!’s pages and gives it larger images". Does that reflect in the logo? We think not. Change should be holistic and while other may disagree we believe a logo should be the embodiment of soul.
What else can we learn? Clearly a great identity takes a whole lot more than a weekend to consider, research, craft, and refine. 30 Days was an interesting campaign (though it may have passed many by), if only to generate a talking point in the lead-up launch to the amongst a community, it’s success was in creating a buy-in for an audience.
Let's take a brief look back at the Olympic logo, unveiled to much faux-outrage, people were shocked, appalled "cover your eye's children" they cried in the streets. But it was strong, gave value, and made a statement of intent. It embodied soul and in context of the grand 2012 picture the brand was staggering in its breadth, adaptability execution and above all coherence. It was tremendous. But that's the thing, logos live on, sometimes they evolve, but successful ones keep their soul.
The great revered identity heroes of history Rand, Bass, Lloyd, Henrion, Vignelli, Bos and the like taught us that logos outlive, often, even the company or event – consumers adopt them and fly them like a flag. Great brands change, they react, they're agile, they adopt campaigns, they roll with the times. Great logos, however, are constant and memorable. They're emblems that live in hearts and minds as much as on golf balls or t-shirts.
True enough, times have changed significantly since those guys were doing their business. The perhaps have to work harder to captivate these days, which makes it all the more baffling that Yahoo! would base their identity on a hackneyed humanist typeface derived from subtleties that will undoubtedly be lost in on-screen application at a reduced size, where it will most often, it not exclusively appear.
It's just our opinion but as a studio have always put great emphasis on creating a well considered, and above all crafted logos that we hope are released unto the world in good stead, designed to last the test of time. We consider primary application and where appropriate impact. We try to embody a single idea and a soul in our Marks as often they are the starting point to a great brand, a story or visual language – creating clear, engaging, hard-working brands. We like to capture something in each identity; be it a message, turn of wit or personality, we design for longevity, not fashion. Maybe we're just romantic like that, but we stick to that belief.
"A powerful logo is one of the most valuable assets a company can utilize to broaden its base and maximize its recognition. It is a vital and irreplaceable component in the success of a corporation. The practice of using symbols to claim ownership is not a modern invention." – famouslogos.net
So, is the new Yahoo! logo different enough from the previous antecedent for anyone to really care enough long term, when the furor has died down that is? The worst thing you could levy at it is it’s a missed opportunity. I mean, it’s OK; rather unoffensive, ambient in its surroundings and at worst forgettable and a little half-hearted perhaps, worst of all it doesn't exactly throw down their glove for a revolution, in our view, but let's give it a chance – in our experience first impressions should, generally, be dismissed. But what is clear enough though is that a logo, the face of a company, deserves much more respect and investment than "almost a full weekend". And an intern. It deserves just as much as time, investment and love as everything else that you do.