Monday, September 16, 2013

Yahoo: Is it just a logo change?

Yahoo recently announced the change in its logo from a y-a-h-o-o-! in capital letters, quirky font and a purple color to another y-a-h-o-o-! in capital letters but with a changed font and a slightly different purple with the exclamation mark tilted by an additional 9 degrees. The description does not seem to suggest that much has changed in the logo but one look at the logo shows that Yahoo will never be the same again - the logo as well as the company, or so, I am sure, Marissa Mayer hopes.
Before I delve deeper into the Yahoo logo change, it would probably help to look at some other logo changes in the past and their implications. Some logos that changed in the Indian context were Tata, Mahindra and Airtel.

I remember Tata changed its logo probably more than a decade ago when they changed from the straight T within a circle to a more "fluidic" T within an oval.
I remember that while this new logo change was seen as a start to more multinational initiatives from Tata, most importantly this was a signal from Ratan Tata about changes that he was doing in the company. The acceptance of this brand change by the company and its associates was seen as a "coming of age" for Ratan Tata. This logo change will be a "successful" part in his legacy.

Mahindra also changed their logo recently to signal the shift in the company from being just an Indian company manufacturing old Jeeps and tractors to a true multinational with products setting the benchmarks for other companies.

Airtel is one example where the logo change was again a very public exercise and the outcome was pretty ordinary, especially compared to the hype it generated. People did not like the logo but Airtel still thrives based on its work. Brand being successful is probably more important than the logo.

Looking at Yahoo with the background of the Tata change, I believe Marissa Mayer has done this with similar intent. She wants to give a message about the need for a change in the way the company is being run. This is the most visible way in which she can show that - like it or not. Personally, I like the older logo much better because it was so very distinct and quirky; seemed to have just the right colour ("mera wala purple!"). The new logo, to me, looks very casual - it is difficult for me to like it. It kinda looks like one of those fonts you get sometimes on the browser when the page does not load properly (just kidding and I know I am exaggerating it :)).
Now, while I don't like the logo now, one will probably learn to like it (do you have another choice?) - the fact that it is difficult to like initially may work for it in the long run - something like some of AR Rahman's songs which take time to grow on you but they eventually become classics! Even if it doesn't become that, as Airtel has showed, the brand and business being successful is more important than the logo.
Like the new logo or not, it is changed. Marissa Mayer is probably hoping that Yahoo employees will not only see this visible change but also understand that their company is changing, for good or for bad, and thus they should change accordingly. Here is hoping this change is for good. What do you think?

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