Yahoo’s 30 Days of Change Logo Release: A Lesson in Desperation

by Aug 8, 2013Branding, Uncategorized

Yahoo’s 30 Days of Change Logo Release: A Lesson in Desperation

by | Aug 8, 2013


I think we can all agree: Yahoo is desperate. And their new logo release promotion proves it.

I’ll get to why I think they’re desperate in a minute, but let’s first talk about this new logo release strategy of Yahoo’s.

The Yahoo Logo Release Plan

Yahoo recently announced the unveiling of a new logo for their brand. Their plan to release it: give us, the public, 30 days of other logo concepts and variations that didn’t make the cut—one each day.

(Here’s the video announcement on Youtube.)

So I get to see a bit behind the scenes of their new logo design. And I have to check up on Yahoo’s sites to see the concepts. Yeah, that’s kinda cool. And it’s kinda newsworthy. And it’ll definitely get some attention. So not a bad idea, I guess. But as I think harder about it I have to ask, “Why?”

What does this strategy say about Yahoo? What does it say about the new brand shift they claim is going on? What does it tell me and show about their “Big Why” (to borrow Simon Sinek’s branding mantra).

The answer: not much.

There’s nothing exceptional about this plan. It doesn’t tell me anything about their new brand except that maybe they’re more transparent. But what internet-based company isn’t trying to be more transparent? C’mon, they all just got brutally bashed for supposedly being in bed with the US government’s intelligence machine—giving all our personal data away, behind our backs. So I truly hope this isn’t the core of their Big Why, their raison d’être, their reason for being.

And this plan dilutes the power of whatever new logo they unveil at the end. We all get to hem and haw about which concept we liked best and second-guess the final decision and basically put Yahoo on the hot seat for making an unpopular design decision.

A Sidenote on Designing a Brand and Public Involvement

Designing your brand is not a public event.

Designing a brand’s logo—and re-branding efforts in general—don’t usually go over well when businesses open them up to public scrutiny.

It’s not a time to cater to every whim of the general public. Your brand is you. It’s your essence as a business culture. The visuals of your brand (as well as the verbal components like voice, tone, and mood) should reflect the remarkable “why” of everything you do.

So know your “why.” And stick to it, like gum on a shoe. Let it pervade every aspect of how your express yourself—how you communicate.

Now I’m not saying you don’t do your audience homework.

Get out there and know your fans and followers. Know what they like, what they don’t like, their personality types, they’re style and fashion. Know what about your brand resonates most with them. These people who love you, wear t-shirts with your logo on them, tell their friends about you, write blog posts about your amazing product, and leave comments on your Facebook page—these are the people who’s opinions matter. Not the public. Not the whole world. Not even the whole state. You cannot and will not ever be everything to everyone.

(Unless you want to be hated. That you can achieve, universally.)

[End branding sidenote]

A Lesson in Desperation

So if letting the public in too much on dictating the design of your brand is so dangerous, what does this say about the state of Yahoo? They are absolutely desperate.

They’ve chosen a weak release plan (one that reveals little about why they should exist) all for the sake of doing something different.

And here lies the two-part lesson we can learn from Yahoo’s desperation:

  1. There’s an upside to desperation: you’ll do anything. When your back is against the wall you’ll be willing to take a risk, think outside the box, and try something new.
  2. Unfortunately that’s the downside to desperation: you’ll do anything…without thinking. You’ll make split-second decisions based on fear and frustration. You’ll lash out with whatever is closest at hand. And you’ll forget to get back to your core. You’ll forget the big “why” that made you something to begin with.

So what’s a desperate brand to do?

Get back to the core of what made you remarkable. Uncover the truth of who you are and get cracking on a plan to resound it.

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