“Aol.” – New Social Identity Released

"Lol."

AOL is releasing its ties to Time Warner officially on December 10th of 2009, just before the start of the new 2010 year. This is a bold move, and they declare that their advertising strategies and management of the brand are to be just as strong. Several new logos have been released as the proposed new logo of the company, a far cry from those used in years passed. Their company name has even been altered to conform to mainsteam culture, or at least that’s what I’m proposing this is an attempt at. As can be seen from the picture’s caption, many have already compared it’s decision to lowercase the “o” and “l” of the previously written AOL, to that of “Lol.”, a commonly used abbreviation among instant messengers and texters alike. (Remember: AIM is a deviation of the same company, one of the most used instant messengers, and my messenger of choice).

The Positives: To me, releasing from Time Warner is going to be difficult, and given that the brand, in my opinion, is suffering from lack of integration into today’s socially connected environment, and even from viral marketing, seeing as it’s merger did just that and merged the brand, making it no longer a singuarly used brand name, means that the only way this seperation is going to work for for AOL is by extremely strong marketing and brand identity. Without strong integration and brand identity, and spreading this via the social networking chains, AOL will die alone. This is smart on their part to work to redefine themselves, and basically, essential to their existence.

The Negatives: This is a whole new logo, which is always pass or fail with companies. Brand identity is what defines a brand in the mind of the consumer and places their awareness in the appropriate location. To change is to take a huge step outside of the box and hope to swim and not tie a stone to their foot with a crash to the bottom. Changing something so dramatically involves smooth transition and intense marketing strategies. This can’t be something tossed together overnight, but a well-thought out plan of action. Seeing as this is the first that I’ve heard of the break, and the official date is only days away, I’m truly hoping this isn’t as rash as I have the feeling it might be. It definitely says that to the consumer, and makes one doubt the power behind AOL’s management team.

Noted Problems:

1. As mentioned, this resembles “Lol.” – I hope they plan on being more social network oriented if that’s the approach they were going for. Changing tyography styles or manipulating what was pre-existing is drastic. Sometimes, a change in font type or style is necessary more than just an alteration. Be sure this is truly what you want to say about yourself and that you are prepared to have valid backing for why you chose this for your brand. (Read more about this topic at: https://snippetsection.wordpress.com/2009/11/05/the-font-that-changed-50-years-of-ikea-history/

2. Graphically, I’m not so sure that leaving the first letter capitalized is so wise. It looks a bit off. I would have gone with all lowercase if I kept the same style and font type. This is too similar without a real reason behind it. Any marketer knows that switching your letters around a bit isn’t re-branding. If it doesn’t have some serious validity, you end up causing the opposite effect: a lack of respect for the marketing team.

3. The logos chosen (See more at: http://mashable.com/2009/11/23/aol-logos/) don’t seem to have anything to do with the brand. They remind me of signing into my bank account online and having to pick from the random pictures until I see something I like that I feel fits me, or even a different array of random AIM profile icons. AOL is more than instant messaging, and definitely was defined before, now it looks sporadic and jumbled with no real sense of definition. The bottom 3 are the absolute worse, because they aren’t even true objects to me, just squiggles someone drew out. Did they hire preschoolers to liven up the brand a bit with crayon art? I can’t even tell what half of them are, much less why that should speak AOL to me, of Aol. in this case. Strong brand identity and management of a brand calls for one strong, single, unified symbol that should feel, speak, even sound like that of the brand. When you see it, you should recognize it as AOL’s logo and should understand why you relate it as such. These haven’t even hit photoshop yet… I see halftones and pixels!

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