New Logos Don’t Fix Marketing Problems



Recently, Yahoo! showed 30 new logos in 30 days and finally chose their new mark. The whole exercise seemed mis-prioritized to me, and here is why.

The first and most important rule of marketing is that your market should know who you are. Thankfully, there is a metric that approximates this attribute of a company – Website Bounce Rate.

Website Bounce Rate (more info)

It’s like a broken knock-knock joke.

Yahoo!: Knock Knock
Me: Who’s there
Yahoo!: It’s complicated. But check the logo out!
Me: [Back Button]

Put another way, Bounce Rate represents a user who says, “I came, I puked, I left” –  Avinash Kaushik

The reason people bounce is because they feel a mismatch between what they are looking for and what they see. Marketing’s job is to make sure that the expectations meet the reality and vice-versa.

If your brand, which is represented by your website, isn’t clear about what you do, then people will bounce. Look at Yahoo!’s website. I don’t understand who they are and what they do.

Here are some brands that I know exactly what they do, especially by looking at their websites:

  1. Google: Search. Duh, it’s like the only thing on the page.
  2. Marketo: Marketing Software. 60px font doesn’t lie.
  3. NBCNews: It’s news. It’s in the name. Nothing but news.
  4. MySpace: Brilliant rebranding as the new cultural/music home. It’s screaming music video right at you.
  5. Buy anything.
  6. Zendesk: It says, “What is Zendesk?” right there. It’s help center software.

Yahoo! on the other hand is a mish-mash of lots of things. News, apps, shopping, photo sharing, email, dating, travel, etc. The list goes on and on. Google has many of the same features, but they make their site and their branding crystal clear. It’s search, plain and simple.

Android for Google and EC2 for Amazon are great examples of how a company can have something that doesn’t “fit” expectations in their core branding yet still makes it successful. Android is doing extremely well, yet the Google website doesn’t mention it at all. It’s almost always Android, not Google Android.

Back to the Logo

Marketers often think that a new coat of paint will fix the termites in the walls. They think a new logo will re-energize the team and allow for a new brand presence. I admire everything Marissa Mayer has done at Yahoo! and I think the company has made great strides. However, the website is still a goat rodeo with no clear brand statement, and there’s no clear answer about who they are.

Their new logo made me go to Yahoo!’s new website.  I still didn’t know what to use them for, so I clicked the back button.

If Yahoo can figure out who they are and make that a reality in all of their marketing, then it doesn’t matter what logo they choose. Yahoo needs real marketing, not new logos.