A while ago I used to work for AOL. After that I worked for AOL, LLC and prior to that America Online. Today, if I was still there, I’d be working for Aol. Confused? Imagine how their audience feels.
AOL is finally separating from Time Warner on December 9th. Tim Armstrong, AOL’s new CEO (and former Google VP) decided to hire Wolff Olins to revamp the brand in time for the split, in the hopes of reinvigorating the brand. With a company struggling to stay relevant, is it the right time to be revamping the brand?
Wolff Olins was hired by the London Olympic committee to develop the 2012 logo. Here is the logo they chose.
Now lets look at the new Aol. logos (oh, and yes, there is a period after Aol).
Ta Da! No – I’m not kidding.
The logo uses a mixture of lowercase and uppercase type, and adds a period at the end of the company title. AOL plans to display the words over a variety of images, including a leaf, a fish, a shoe, a neon-green scribble, and an upraised hand. According to the New York Times, AOL has readied hundreds of pictures, which it will roll out over the next few months.
“Historically brand identity has been monolithic and controlling, little more than stamping a company name on a product,” said Karl Heiselman, CEO of Wolff Olins, the firm which designed the rejiggered AOL logo. “AOL is a 21st century media company, with an ambitious vision for the future and new focus on creativity and expression, this required the new brand identity to be open and generous, to invite conversation and collaboration, and to feel credible, but also aspirational.”
Oliver Reichnestein, the creative director of Tokyo based design agency Information Architects Inc., had this to say:
Radical identity changes usually suggest that there is something wrong with the company. Well, we all know what’s wrong with AOL. Their original business (Internet access) is obsolete. Dropping all visual keys and forcing the logo to a negative appearance on random images surely is a drastic measure. If the goal of the redesign was to illustrate how the company is slowly vanishing from the fast changing digital surface of the planet, I’d say: Job well done.
Well, that just about says it all. To all my former AOL colleagues who worked so hard to develop a strong, confident brand, I’m sorry. As one friend stated today on Facebook, it reminds her of ‘A-hole’. Another said it reminds him of bad clipart. Oops! I guess now is really not the right time to be re-thinking the AOL brand!