THE BLOG

More Boohoo Than Yahoo

30/09/2013 15:01 BST | Updated 30/11/2013 10:12 GMT

Who comes up with this stuff? When you spend 20 years establishing a decent reputation as the world's number two search engine, you would think that some sort of personality would have emerged. But no, at the final unveiling of the new Yahoo brand mark it appears the dampest squib of the year.

The proud CEO Marissa Maher, calls the new logo, "whimsical, yet sophisticated. Modern and fresh, with a nod to our history. Having a human touch, personal. Proud." Which sounds like a brief which would produce a right camel, instead we get a turkey - a dodgy outcome.

I think Ms Maher may have got confused with its 30 day teaser campaign - a new logo everyday (er doesn't Google do that from time to time?), in other words, give the folks a bit of everything. Alas we end up with nothing.

The typographers amongst you will spot the Optima origins and well, little else.

No whimsy, no sophistication, no modernity and freshness . . . Optima was designed in 1955. And so on, nothing.

What astonishes me about the team (and I include the client here) who worked on this, is how little they have learnt from branding history. Why do people not start with the basic lessons of Logotype design . . . it is an expression of your individual signature. Note individual, it should look unique. Note also how the world's most recognised brand, Coca-Cola does it. Not some machined signature but every curve and curl crafted for difference. Can I spell it out more plainly?

Of course Yahoo is not the only culprit. Every time I come across the crass and ubiquitous Sports Direct, I shudder at the sloppy, lazy, banal execution of its name. Perhaps CEO Mike Ashley is a secret admirer of lumpy sans fonts or lumpy sportsmen - as his brand signature is neither athletically toned nor explosively active.

Do brands that are 'on the move' think that the old crutch of italics is all they need? Look at the emasculated Eddie Stobart. Once a singular brand with a hokey logotype to match. Now just a souped-up Letraset exercise. Is there a branding company out there that specialises in this high art of design deviance? How to use Helvetica in a thousand different ways to produce a thousand feel-alikes? Yuk. But perhaps they know no better.

Yet there are a few people who should know better yet choose to plough the hackneyed Swiss furrow.

One was Massimo Vignelli whom I met in New York 30 odd years ago. He dismissed my penchant for matching brand personality to typography. A staunch advocate of Helvetica - he used no other font, he told me to go back to school - "you must understand that there are only TWO typefaces - serif and sans serif. I suggest you try to learn one before you even try the other."

Sound sense maybe. But what a dull visual world we would be living in. And yes Yahoo, you are no help.