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Can AOL be Relevant Again?

December 1st, 2009

As AOL has slipped from its perch as a premier Internet provider to irrelevancy, the brand is seemingly now better suited for a museum archive than a laptop.

But rather than scrap the AOL brand entirely, the company is giving it a fresh coat of paint in anticipation of its spinoff from parent company Time Warner on Dec 9. It’s a desperate move for a brand that has struggled for years to shed the perception of being a technological laggard, but is also one that’s necessary if there’s to be anything of the company left to salvage.

The new logo, Aol., drops the familiar triangle at the end, favors title case over all CAPS, and adds a period at the end of the name – hardly a big departure from the existing logo. What’s noteworthy is the added flexibility. The new logo will be superimposed on a variety of images – anything from a fish to a skateboarder to an abstract drawing – to give it new life. It recalls the various treatments of the MTV logo and, more recently, the chameleon look of another giant M, this time from the City of Melbourne. Additionally, the period can be leveraged much in the way that ESPN has used “/” in TV ads to promote the extent of its online content (e.g. ESPN.com/nfl, ESPN.com/sportsnation, ESPN.com/Chicago, etc).

While many designers may cringe at the new look, it’s clear that the logo’s strength draws from the brand associations it makes through various treatments of the logo. A new graphic identity cannot alone save AOL from irrelevancy, but AOL will find success if it is able to match the tone its brand sets with an updated offering that is in tune with the needs and demands of a new generation of Internet users.

Posted Under: Branding
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