Don’t Treat Your Brand like a Pet Project

Yahoo just changed their logo, and I like it. What I don’t like is the way they did it. Here is why:

First of all, let me say that I am a big fan of the 30 days of change. I am quite a fan of the idea of rebranding Yahoo. I do like the new Yahoo logo, and it’s … well … basically the same as the old one.

And when I read Marissa’s blog post, it scared the shit out of me.

Here is why:

1. When the CEO of a 11,500 people company takes care of the rebranding herself, something’s not right.
2. When you give the rebranding of a $10 billion company a weekend, something’s wrong.
3. When you force your design team to stay in over the weekend for that, something is definitely wrong.

I don’t want to judge the quality or value the new logo has for the Yahoo brand. I will not say anything about if I think the Yahoo brand is “dull” or “dated”. Oliver Reichenstein already did that.

Just let me say two things:

A designer is not somebody who can operate or “get dangerous” in Illustrator or Photoshop. A designer is someone who creates something that makes other people see and feel the way you want them to see and feel. He (or she) is a manipulator. He or she can isolate a defined value, emphasize and visualize it. If your designer is a professional, he or she will make it work. If you are lucky, your designer will even make something aesthetic, something beautiful out of it.

Second: If you have the same logo for 18 years or more, it does not mean you have to change it. If your company values have changed, you might want to adopt. If the field you’re playing in has changed, you might want to adopt.

When we changed the Wooga logo last year, we optimized it for the mobile platform we were targetting. We tried to open up for new usecases by removing treatment and making it more legible — our company values did not change. We adopted.

It took us a couple of month to do so and couple of weeks (and a few boxes of chocolate) to convince everybody in the company of why we did so. We treated it like a serious branding project, not like something that should be done on a saturday by the guy who’s dangerous in Adobe products. And believe me, I’ve seen what Jens does in Photoshop — he’s clearly dangerous!

If you don’t change the core, think twice before you change your brand — you might end up with same, but without serifs. If you still do, treat it like a serious project. Don’t make things you would like to have or see, but you would others like to see and feel.

Or to put it even shorter:

Your $10 billion brand is not a pet project.