Brand Aid 7: So Why Did Yahoo Change Their Logo?

Did you see the ‘hoo-ha’ created by the new ‘Yahoo’ logo?

After 18 years of recognition and acceptance, Yahoo’s new CEO decided it was time for a change. They whipped up a press frenzy with their ‘30 days of change’ teaser campaign…

…putting forward a possible new logo every day for a month, before they FINALLY revealed the ‘magnificent’ solution we’d all been perched eagerly on the edges of our seats for…

YAAAAHOOooo – ahh – mmm, we all shouted…what a disappointment; all that build up and anticipation only to be brought back down to earth with a “So What?!’ It’s OK… but it’s no better than the old one – a change for change’s sake!

It has been widely criticised as being a huge let down. “Who cares?”, I hear you say, “it’s only a search engine logo and we all use Google anyway!”

The design community cared. They cared enough to shout “OI – NO! This is not good enough, you haven’t just let me and your mother down, you’ve let yourself down too!” They held online competitions to see if someone could come up with a better solution, here are a couple of my favourites from the thousands of entries:

The logo on the left has a certain tongue-in-cheek personality and charm about it. The negative space used in the one on the right, where the ‘H’ forms an exclamation mark is both memorable and clever.

Other search engines also cared, Bing decided it was time for a logo re-vamp: “Search me!”…

Google thought: “Why not, we’ll steal a bit of the Yahoo thunder and pee on their bonfire as well, extinguishing the last embers of hope.”

It’s widely accepted that when it comes to logo changes by major brands, negative consumer reaction is quite commonplace – customers dislike any change to what they know and are comfortable with about a brand.

When Starbucks announced a radical change to its logo by removing the words Starbucks Coffee and replacing it with just a mermaid image, the reaction was fierce: “Who’s the bonehead in your marketing department that removed the world-famous name of Starbucks Coffee from your new logo? This gold card user isn’t impressed!”

The negative reaction to Gap’s recent logo change was so strong that the retailer was forced to reverse it’s decision and announce only days after the launch that it would be sticking with it’s old logo.

A logo is the symbol of the relationship between brand and customer. It’s a short cut to purchase that makes customers comfortable because they know what they’re getting.

Scientists have found that the brain takes these ‘short cuts’ when it processes information. The more it recognises a symbol that it’s comfortable with, such as a preferred brand logo, the quicker it makes decisions with less anxiety – making changes disrupts this comfort zone.

So when is the right time to change your logo (if ever)?

A tough question, some argue that radically changing an established brand logo is almost never the right choice, but updating it and keeping it fresh as Google have demonstrated is often a good idea.

Logical reasons for revolutionary change can be things such as:

• The products or services your business provides have changed
• You’re merging with another company
• Your logo is technically difficult to reproduce
• The reputation of your business has been damaged in some way
• Your logo doesn’t represent your business effectively, etc.

However, being bored with a well loved, established logo because it’s been around for a long time, is not a good reason for change. As the ‘hoo-ha’ at Yahoo has shown, although it did get them some short term press coverage, ‘change for change’s sake’ can do more harm than good and serve to alienate your existing customers.

A good logo should be memorable, relevant to your core business and send a message to your customers about the quality of the products and services you provide. It should be designed with longevity in mind and if the concept is sound, your logo should last for the lifetime of your business.

If you are planning to change your logo, for whatever reason, carefully weigh up the benefits of change against the advantages your current logo holds and make sure that it’s a change for the better!