Surprise! A new logo for AOL… ahh, Aol.

AOL is breaking away from Time Warner next month, and leaving their old look behind as well. They are replacing AOL with Aol. and making an undistinguishable statement with this period after the Aol. The new brand identity print, video and online versions launch Dec. 10.

The Aol. logotype sits on different backgrounds of any kind ranging from moving objects, photos, funky drawings, people and whatever is desired or the flavor of the moment.

aol5

This rings a bit of googleness to me. Google uses different images to “play with” its logotype letterforms. They have been very successful with it. The reason? We still see the Google logotype in its iconic colors across all media the same way wherever it appears. The letterforms are “played with” on their search website. Somehow you always know it is Google.

Allen P. Adamson, Landor Associates (brand and corporate identity consultancy), states in the N.Y. Times, AOL “signals your father’s Internet”. This explains the switch to the Aol. “playful” look and feel – it’s an attempt to shed the old perception of AOL.

Let’s see if they can pull it off.

The constantly changing images behind the logotype are intended to elicit surprise, says Sam Wilson and Jordan Crane, of Wolff Olins New York, the creators of the new brand identity. The period in the logo was added to suggest “confidence, completeness,” Ms. Wilson said, by declaring that “AOL is the place to go for the best content online, period.” I guess branding is all about surprises!

I might warm up to this premise, if the Aol. logotype was not “strategically placed” on objects where parts of it blend into and disappear on its setting. Call me a purist. This changes the positive-negative space relationship of the Aol. visual icon. So whenever you see Aol., it visually never looks the same. I can see changing the backgrounds, although this is a stretch for me, but changing the icon as well? There needs to be some constant repetition of consistency across all media to build a visual brand.

In this example, the period is not even there!

aolmissing

And in this one, the look is entirely different than any of the others. It actually looks like the logotype is set in a gray morphic bar. Historically, under normal circumstances this would be considered a breach of the logotype.

aol-gray

So here is where I draw the line. Times change. Logos evolve. But change and surprises everywhere a logotype appears? Are we in a new paradigm and I am just not there? I just do not believe a company can be successful in building a strong brand this way.

Help me out with this one. What do you think?

Happy Thanksgiving!

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