AOL has released a statement previewing a new brand identity.
“The new AOL brand identity is a simple, confident logotype, revealed by ever-changing images. It’s one consistent logo with countless ways to reveal. The new brand identity will be fully unveiled on December 10, when AOL common stock begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
“Our new identity is uniquely dynamic. Our business is focused on creating world-class experiences for consumers and AOL is centered on creative and talented people – employees, partners, and advertisers. We have a clear strategy that we are passionate about and we plan on standing behind the AOL brand as we take the company into the next decade.”
Although the AOL logo itself will be constant, the backgrounds will change continuously in an effort to suggest the breadth of AOL’s content.
The period in the logo was added to suggest “confidence, completeness,” said Sam Wilson, managing director at the Wolff Olins New York office, by declaring that “AOL is the place to go for the best content online, period.”
Tim Armstrong said he liked to describe the period as “the AOL dot” because “the dot is the pivot point for what comes after AOL,” whether it’s email, websites or coming offerings that will “surprise people.”
Here’s a video of Armstrong taking about the new brand identity. (Click here if you don’t see the embedded video below.)
“The constantly changing images behind the logo are also intended to elicit surprise,” said Sam Wilson and Jordan Crane, creative director at Wolff Olins New York.
An advertising campaign to promote the new look is being considered, said Maureen Marquess, chief of staff at AOL in New York, as is the role to be played by the AOL brand character, known as the running man.
AOL’s running man brand character
Whatever AOL does or does not do, Ms. Marquess said, there will be gibes from critics, whom she called “the snarkies” after the snarky comments they invariably make.
AOL’s old logo
AOL’s new logo
Call me one of “the snarkies,” but when I’m told a brand identity is “uniquely dynamic” my eyes start to glaze with thoughts of pumped-up marketing speak and telling clients what they want to hear.
Update: 25 November 2009
Tony Spaeth of Identity Works dropped by with a comment I see much sense in:
“My snarky two cents: The long term problem here is the original name decision — America, On Line? Six syllables (which forced initials) plus a counterproductive meaning — the Web is inherently and joyously global, isn’t it? AOL should now have faced up to this fundamental identity problem, which has been compounded of late by a performance reputation problem, and fixed it with a name change.
“Instead, we have a design solution that diminishes, lower-cases, reverses and virtually hides the initials, as if apologizing for them. (It’s a visual equivalent of “if you have nothing to say, talk faster and louder.”)
“To be sure, mutable wordmarks (visual play, around consistent letterforms) can be fun. Certainly, MTV and Nickelodeon showed you can get away with it on television, and Google has shown it can work on the Web. But are these particular “Aol.” letterforms a strong-enough visual anchor? Not clearly. Verbally, they are still a hole in the hull.
“And are we now expected to write not AOL but Aol? (I refuse to add the period, in text.) And thus to speak it as a-awl, or a-owl? The punctuation of the logo introduces uncertainty of the name in text applications… which is not a good a way to build a stronger brand.”
How about you? Are you in favour?
AOL rebrand chat elsewhere
- AOL Revamps Its Logo, Hoping To Revive Brand, on NYTimes.com
- What designers think of AOL’s new logo, on guardian.co.uk
- Aol. A Shrunken New Logo for a Shrunken Company, on FastCompany
- New AOL logo, on The Huffington Post
- AOL Reveals Lame New Look & Logo, on GigaOM
- What do you think about the new AOL brand? on Liquid Agency
- New Shell for AOL, on Subtraction.com
- Aol. Generation. Next., on Brand New