Today, some professional opinions from a few of our design experts:
Ken Carbone, CarboneSmolan: This new identity is stillborn. It's old before it is new and signals a desperate attempt to be hip and relevant, somewhat like the new Yahoo is "You" campaign. There are fundamental problems with "Aol." its service and perception that other Internet pioneers will face if they focus their branding and marketing on young audiences only. This group is slippery and building brand loyalty is challenging. Facebook? Here today, gone tomorrow? The "flexi brand" approach, while potentially fun, also signals that Aol. is still searching for a meaningful identity. Also, if the change from AOL to Aol. is to signal vitality, new thinking or a future promise, don't bother.
Joe Duffy, Duffy & Partners: I could be mistaken...but I'd swear that's the British pronunciation for A-hole! Sorry, that was too easy.
Debbie Millman, Sterling Brands: The new AOL identity is a disaster. They should put a garbage can behind the logo and call it a day.
A peek around the Internet reveals that other designers feel the same way. The Guardian rounded up the reactions of several designers, and our favorite has to be this gem from Om Malik of technology site GigaOM: "It is ambiguous at best, and as sexy as the obese, shapeless humans living on Axiom, the flagship of the BnL fleet in Pixar movie WALL-E."
Over at Brand New, Armin Vit took Aol.'s shape-shifting logo advice to heart. He didn't as much bash the logo as push their anything-goes-behind-us strategy to the very, very edge. "I am not trying to be immature but when you are a media giant, vulnerable to an endless array of criticism, you have to be careful what ammunition you give your haters," he wrote. Well-executed and well-said.