AOL will be spun off from Time Warner on December 9 and to celebrate, the Internet pioneers have sprung for a new look. Several, in fact--the logo will be plastered upon a number of elements ranging from a goldfish to what looks like clip art purchased from 1987. Oh, and by the way? The name? It's now "Aol." (the period is theirs). The new little lowercase letters seem appropriate for a company that announced it would thin its ranks--voluntarily or otherwise--by 2,500 people (a third of its workforce), just in time for the holidays.
According to the press release on AOL's--ahem, I mean Aol.'s--site, it's a "simple, confident logotype, revealed by ever-changing images." No mention at all (aol?) of the Aol. Ever-changing images are one thing, but turning a company's acronymed name into a one-word sentence is something else entirely. Besides, a lowercase "L" sure does look a heck of a lot like an uppercase "I." Just sayin'.
The old, uppercase AOL logo
But if AOL/Aol. wanted to shake things up, they certainly went to the right place. The firm handling the redesign is none other than Wolff Olins, who have caught plenty of flak for their massively unpopular London Olympics 2012 logo and didn't make many more friends in New York with a new NYC logo.
New Aol. CEO Tim Armstrong, who's hell-bent on shepherding the brand into a new era, stands by his decisions: "We have a clear strategy that we are passionate about and we plan on standing behind the AOL brand as we take the company into the next decade." Uh...you mean Aol.
UPDATE: Armstrong gave an interview to PaidContent and explains that what we're seeing is actually the morphing of AOL to the name "Aol dot," placing its services and channels after the logo (Aol.CityGuide, Aol.Personals). This will all be made clearer as a "more holistic brand presence" will roll out in the ensuing weeks.
And the lowercase? That was just to get your attention! "Having people look at the identity differently will probably have them at least be open to thinking about the brand differently, something's changed, been updated--another reason for them think differently about AOL." Because that's why we use lowercase characters, right? To get people to think.
Armstrong also was quick to point out that such a campaign will not be taking away from the salaries of his dwindling employees: "It's going to be very, very, very inexpensive because we're focused on just improving the products and services. I would say the marketing budget is the budget we're using on product development and the changes we're making." But somebody had to pay Wolff Olins, no?
UPDATE: To add insult to injury, another sneak peek to Aol.'s new campaign floated in this afternoon:
Skateboarders! People walking on chests!