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AOL Reveals Lame New Look & Logo

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AOL will launch a new look and logo along with its official spinout from Time Warner (s TWX) on Dec. 10, as it tries to become a content-centric company. Wolff Olins, a global brand and innovation consultancy, worked on this new look and logo which seeks to replace the older, more iconic AOL branding. The minute I saw the logo (and its various interpretations), my first reaction was simple: lame. It is ambiguous at best, and as sexy as the obese, shapeless humans living on Axiom, the flagship of the BnL fleet in Pixar movie “WALL-E.”

Why such a visceral reaction? Perhaps because I grew up with the old AOL (all caps) and am mad at change — a malady normally associated with aging. Jokes aside, the new logo fails to capture what is going to be a smaller, nimbler AOL, one that is represented by a collection of smaller, iconic brands such as Engadget and Joystiq. AOL should ask for its money back!

97 Responses to “AOL Reveals Lame New Look & Logo”

  1. they’ve already achieved what every “good, standard, contemporary or trendy” logo could not do: spark discussion. And I looked at these all day and I finally came to the conclusion of actually liking it after thinknikg “WTF” at first.

  2. I don’t hate it, but it’s going to be nearly impossible to use it consistently, even in these examples, the proportion of type to object changes, and some of the objects don’t seem to fit in the series. I like flexible branding, but it’s gotta stay consistent, this is going to end badly.

  3. What is going on with Wolff Olins? First the London 2012 Olympics logo, and now this? On one hand, the agency seems to have hit upon a trend in recommending these confusing permutable solutions. And then clients are lapping this stuff up.

  4. Billybob Tanner

    1. Sleeping with the fishes.
    2. Satan
    3. Maelstrom
    4. Deadly fungus
    5. LSD usage
    6. Squiggly line that the “customer service” rep doodles while you beg for your account to be cancelled.

  5. Billybob Tanner

    They forgot the cow patty.

    Hey AOL, did you cancel my account yet? Just cancel the account.


  6. Stupid. They should have just grabbed an OWL, stuck “aol” on it, and said, “we’re still LOLhooting” or something trendy. Instead, they get 4th grader “look what I did on my (pirated) Photoshop mom!”

    Maybe I need to get a contract with those boneheads. I’ll “do their website” for $3,000,000. With WordPress. :)

  7. I’ll have to throw down for the designers, this feels like a company-forced design to me. I would be willing to bet that the designers came back with several decent options and then AOL’s junior marketing team hacked them to death before presenting to anyone with real authority to make changes, who then spread them around the whole company allowing anyone and the janitor to make design decisions. I mean c’mon, 6 different equally lame options? That says there were mobs of people in the room who lured this thing down an alley and strangled it 6 times to please all parties involved. Don’t blame the design firm for AOLs dinosaur marketing team.

  8. What do AOL, Time Warner and Comcast all have in common? They are convinced they can force the consumer to use their products and services the way they want the consumers to use them; without regards to reality. Pathetic, sad and very dinosaur – ish of them.

    Of course when you consider that they continue to deny their subscribers un-throttled, un-restricted, un-bandwidth shaped fiber access to the Internet, is it really a surprise to anyone? Heck they are mis-guidely fighting net neutrality. Are they honestly ignorant?

    My guess is by the time they realize their customer no-service poor business mistakes, they will not be able to buy their customers back! Their customers have been theirs to lose over the last 20 years, and they are successfully pissing all of them, except for the most fanatic fanbois, off royally.

    Very short sighted of them pissing off so many for so little. Guess they think we are not paying attention, wrong.

    They sure do not act like their customer’s trust matters…go figure. With this in mind I vote for the third one on the top line, so they flush their profits and their customers down the toilet together. They probably should have two of those, with the swish in opposite directions…one for each hemisphere!

  9. Bastian Nutzinger

    No no you got this wrong.

    This is actually very clever, let me explain:
    They figured:
    Hey, you know. everybody hates AOL, right?
    Lets make our new Logo so generic and unrecognisable that nobody in their right mind will associate this with us. Then the customers will think: “Oh this cant be THAT AOL. Lets buy stuff from Aol.”

  10. The period at the end of the name is totally yesterday. How can a design agency put that out in 4Q2009?!

    When Deloitte did it, it was fine. But now? Seriously?

    Gosh, why don’t they just rename it Aol Group and go totally out of fashion?

    I give Wolff props for keeping it real all these years, making people feel disgust with their designs (London 2012, anyone?)

    I just wish their customers weren’t all desperate and broken.



    • Nailed it… Haha.

      These logos are hideous – AOL should ask for its money back as any kid over 8 yrs old could have easily generated this crap. Looks like a last minute “oh crap we forgot to design AOL’s logo this week” mashup.

  11. Ask for their money back, indeed! Whomever did these icons was a cultural idiot. At least one of them will be considered severely offensive in several cultures. As for the pink one, what is that, your brain on Aol? Or is that the one next to it, with your brain exploding if you use Aol? Of course the blue one, presumably the “logo” itself, bears a striking resemblance to the ancient symbol of the snake eating itself, which is ironically appropriate. And finally there is the little matter of switching case from AOL, which is clearly an acronym, to Aol, which is easily confused as an actual word, one that phonetically sounds like a part of the anatomy that would be found at the opposite end of the alimentary canal from the exploding brian.

  12. Re-inventing the AOL brand is going to be their toughest challenge of all. Even still, the current wisdom is that “brands” are becoming increasingly irrelevant.

    But these logo images make no sense to me. I might have nightmares.

    • It is logos that become increasingly irrelevant. Brands, to the contrary, rise in importance. In our current economic model, we buy less and less the actual product value or service. Instead we invest into products based on trust and our experiences of reliability, reputation and sometimes a culture of a brand. You’d be surprised how much you buy based on your gut feeling about that brand.

      Changing a brand’s logo is not a simple task. It almost never finds positive recognition among consumers, but the impact of such a corporate redesign is not so big. In the end, it simply doesn’t matter. People buy a brand because of what it represents, not because of the logo representing the brand.