Yahoo! is a $10 billion company…with a brand new two-bit logo. That’s the verdict from the famously prickly design community, perhaps with good reason. The rebounding tech giant unveiled its first-ever brand refresh last week after a 30-day countdown of other designs – an effective marketing ploy that focused attention on a brand that CEO Marissa Mayer is bringing back from the dead. And like everything else about Mayer’s Yahoo, the logo has her fingerprints all over it – in this case, literally.
In a blog post that accompanied the unveiling, Mayer talks about how she “rolled up my sleeves and dove into the trenches with our logo design team” to produce the logo. Granted, such attention to detail/micro-management is Mayer’s hallmark: at Google, she famously ordered a review of 41 shades of blue for the home page toolbar to determine which was most appealingly clickable.
But there are limits to being hands-on, and Mayer exceeded them here. Given an outcome that now seems predetermined, the “countdown” seems contrived and anti-climactic. The end result has been roundly pilloried as uninspired by professional designers and other critics with witheringly trenchant attacks, and not even the general public seems to like it. Mayer, in her blog post, dutifully shared “credit” with her design team, but whatever blame is hers alone.
THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) to Yahoo, for letting its energetic CEO moonlight as a graphic designer.
THE PR TAKEAWAY: Running the show? Know when to step offstage. Mayer should have left the logo redesign to the pros. What do investors and other stakeholders think when the CEO gets this deep in the weeds? Logo redesigns are incredibly sensitive tasks and for that reason exceedingly rare. They are also seldom greeted with universal acclaim, and next to impossible to undo. They are best left to an outside firm with fresh perspective – and distance from management, which gets to say yea or nay before the unveiling. That minimizes the potential blowback when, for example, a better design (done by a Yahoo intern) surfaces after the fact.