AOL, Er, Aol., Lets Us In On Its New Brand Identity

Why is it that companies changing their brands seem to opt for lower-case logos these days? at&t was AT&T; tw telecom was Time Warner Telecom; and AOL is soon to be Aol. – with the period. (And yes, xchange was Xchange).

“The new AOL brand identity is a simple, confident logotype, revealed by ever-changing images,” AOL, which is set to spin off from Time Warner Inc., said in a press release on Sunday.

“It’s one consistent logo with countless ways to reveal,” the company added.

To that point, AOL unveiled some of the images that will accompany its logo. The new – and dare we say, goofy – graphics must be intended to signify the aforementioned innumerable revelations because they are all over the place. For example, there’s a goldfish with a stumped expression (although that’s pretty typical of most tiny carp); a pixellated hand giving the “hang-loose” symbol; a swirly blue whirlpool looking thing; a pink fungus-looking thing; a Dali-esque tree/balloon looking thing; and a neon green squiggly.

All very … interesting. And colorful. But one does wonder what message, exactly, the designs are meant to send.

Perhaps the best (and admittedly, rather humorous) explanation comes from Karl Heiselman, CEO of Wolff Olins, the advertising company AOL hired to reinvent its image.

“Historically, brand identity has been monolithic and controlling, little more than stamping a company name on a product,” Heiselman said in a prepared statement. “AOL is a 21st century media company, with an ambitious vision for the future and new focus on creativity and expression, this requiring the new brand identity to be open and generous, to invite conversation and collaboration, and to feel credible, but also aspirational.”

As for the “Aol.” – is that supposed to signal that the AOL site is the one and only Internet destination, period? Why the lowercase letters? The new word makes a person want to say “a-all.” Or, maybe that’s the idea. At any rate, CEO Tim Armstrong has his work cut out for him as he works to turn AOL/Aol. into a content and advertising heavyweight. But he’ll be lifting the load with at least 2,500 fewer people to help – the company is hoping that many workers opt for voluntary severance packages by mid-December. However, if there aren’t enough volunteers, AOL will wield the involuntary axe.

Either way, AOL/Aol. will start trading its common stock on the NYSE as of Dec. 10; that’s the same day the company says it will reveal the entirety of its “new brand identity.” Sorta sounds like a fashion show for us geeks.

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