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Rethinking Rebranding

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Part 1 in our series on branding
Yahoo! 30 Days of ChangeHave you used Yahoo! lately?

If you have, how would you describe Yahoo! ? What is its unique value proposition? Not sure? Neither are we.

Yahoo! started out in 1994 as an index of sites on the World Wide Web. It wasn’t even a search engine in the beginning.

Nearly two decades, many company acquisitions and several CEOs later, Yahoo! is still a brand in search of itself.

Now, Yahoo! is undergoing a 30-day transformation of its logo. As declared on its 30 days of change” web page, Yahoo! is celebrating “making exciting changes daily” (presumably to its web properties) by also changing their logo every day until the official new Yahoo! logo is finally revealed on September 5.

Can you just feel the excitement in the air with all the anticipation of what this could mean for Yahoo! users the world over?

We don’t feel it either.

 

If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything (or everything).

Brands that stand for something:

  • Apple – cool digital device experience
  • Starbucks – gourmet coffee experience
  • Volvo – safety
  • Coke – cola
  • Geico – insurance
  • Bose – sound
  • Sunkist – oranges

These are a few examples of brands that have worked extremely hard to stand for just one thing. I’m sure you can come up with many more. Of course, these are tangible products. What about websites? OK, here goes:

  • Facebook – friends
  • LinkedIn – business
  • Google – search
  • Instagram – photos
  • Twitter – tweet
  • Evernote – notes
  • Dropbox – file storage
  • Salesforce – CRM
  • ebay – online auction
  • Craig’s List – classifieds
  • Yahoo! – ???

Just what does Yahoo! stand for?

Upon entering the site, one is confronted with a barrage of news articles, ads, and links to other services. The eye literally doesn’t know where to go.

Yahoo! Home Page

Contrast this with Google’s home page. What a breath of fresh air.

Google Home Page

There’s no mistaking what this site is for. Unification and simplicity have been bulwarks of Google’s brand since the beginning.

One can forgive users if they are confused about how and when to visit Yahoo!.

 

A history of acquisitions…for what?

Yahoo has risen and fallen throughout the years with a spate of corporate acquisitions. These were done ostensibly to aggregate user bases and synergize brands. In fact, none of these acquisitions have served to help unify the Yahoo! brand. If anything, they’ve distracted Yahoo! from its core competencies and fragmented the brand into jagged splinters. Here’s a list of the companies Yahoo! has acquired over the years, up to the very recent purchase of Rockmelt.

 

Lipstick on a pig.

Now Yahoo! is trying to tantalize us all with a 30-day countdown to a brand new logo. Yippee! (Oops, sorry, Yahoo!) What will all this mean at the end of 30 days?

Unless Yahoo! delivers an entirely revamped, beautiful, focused and unified user experience that truly satisfies a real user need, the logo change will represent nothing more than putting lipstick on a pig.

Changing a logo is not rebranding. Neither is changing a company name.

Brand is the relationship users have with your company and its products and services. It is the aggregate of every experience users have ever had with your company. It is no different than the relationship you have with family members and friends. These relationships are mutually beneficial, pleasurable, and consistent, or you wouldn’t have them. Relationships with brands are exactly the same.

So, just because your significant other dyes her hair a different color or starts wearing khakis instead of jeans doesn’t mean your relationship with that person changes. On the other hand, if that person starts to act very differently than before, or inconsistently day to day, the foundation for your relationship weakens, because this is not the person you originally fell in love with.

It’s the same for Yahoo!. Your relationship with Yahoo!, should you actually have one at this point, will not change when the company’s logo changes. It will only change when what Yahoo! offers you, and how it offers it, changes. That’s rebranding.

 

Rethinking Rebranding

It’s time to rethink the why and how of evolving your brand. First of all, is it something that really needs changing? Secondly, what’s broken? Specifically, what part of the user experience is broken? Remember, it’s never about you or your company. It’s ALL about the User. A sure sign that you need to rebrand is that the user is unable to emotionally bond with your company or your offering. You aren’t meeting the user’s needs.

As such, rebranding is nothing less than rethinking your business model: what you offer, how you offer it, how you price it, how you deliver it, how you communicate about it, and the user’s experience of, well, using it.

This is a topic that deserves its own blog post, if not several…which is why we will devote a series of upcoming posts to rebranding.

Meanwhile, we’ll be keeping a close eye on what Yahoo! does next.

Here’s to the Marketing Champion in all of us. See you in the next post.

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4 Responses to Rethinking Rebranding

  1. Awesome article! Very insightful – I'm curious what Yahoo! ends up with, but this really illuminates why there needs to be a sense of purpose behind branding (or re-branding). A logo is not a brand, it's just part of it, and your article describes it very well.

  2. This was a great article and very timely for our company. We were just discussing this topic today and how we can change our image with our market segment.

    You have to admit however, it does make you take notice, but as you say at what result. A confused company that doesn't know what it wants to be when it grows up.