Yahoo! unveils new logo to mixed reception – why branding is more than your masthead

Changing a logo is never an easy task, as recovering media giant Yahoo! discovered this week. The business debuted a new version of its masthead yesterday to mixed reviews – although some believe the change could be influenced by clever marketing strategy.

Yahoo! debuted the new logo yesterday afternoon, Australian time, and it’s not that much different from the old one. The lines are a bit sharper and the colour is a dark purple, but overall, it’s pretty much the same.

On her blog, chief executive Marissa Mayer said changing the logo is not something the company would do lightly.

“We knew we wanted a logo that reflected Yahoo! – whimsical, yet sophisticated. Modern and free, with a nod to our history,” she said.

“Prior to the weekend, we had also polled our employees on the changes they wanted to see. Interestingly, 87% of our employees wanted some type of change in the logo.”

Reactions on social have been mixed. While some welcome the change, others have criticised it for being a big fuss over nothing.

Which is exactly what Yahoo! might want.

Michelle Gamble, the head of Marketing Angels, told SmartCompany this morning the refresh of the logo is an important part of the picture, but it’s only one part of what’s happening at Yahoo!

“The revitalisation of a brand is made up of a number of different elements,” she says.

“What you’re seeing through the hiring of Marissa Mayer, her recent interview in Vogue, the various acquisitions, it’s all about revitalising the Yahoo! brand – and I think refreshing the logo is just one part of the entire picture.

“It’s an important message to the market, but it’s also important to staff internally.”

The changing of a logo can certainly have drastic ramifications for a business, and social media has made the process much more visible.

Back in 2010, retail giant GAP changed its logo – but the backlash from social media forced the company to revert back to the old design.


While the discussion over Yahoo!’s new logo may be perceived as a negative, Gamble says the message is more of a positive one. If the logo had just been changed with no other effort, the criticism would be more piercing – but Marissa Mayer’s changes within the company make the logo change seem more of a substantial gesture.

“I think the logo change is part of the bigger story,” she says.

“I think it’s a great thing, from a marketing perspective. It’s not going to damage the Yahoo! brand, and it gets people talking.”

There’s another key point to consider. There is a reason why the logo hasn’t changed significantly – if it had been altered to an unrecognisable state, it would have resulted in possibly more negative commentary.

By only slightly changing the logo, Yahoo! is able to generate more buzz from people who are curious about the change, rather than an overtly negative response.

“You don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater in terms of what you’re doing there,” says Gamble. “This has happened before with companies like Starbucks – they just make subtle changes to the logo.

“I don’t think it’s going to do any damage to the brand.”


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments