Much has been made of Marissa Mayer’s work ethic (No maternity leave for me, thanks! And no more telecommuting for you!), aggressive growth strategies, resistance to government spying and even sense of style. But the world has remained blissfully unaware of her interest in logo design.
Writing in Tumblr, the self-described geek reveals how she and her design team rolled up their sleeves and dove into re-designing their iconic logo—a mark that, they believed, had not kept pace with the brand’s reinvention and renewal. And just like that, after a mere weekend, a new Yahoo! emerged, complete with sans serif font (uppercase), variable size letters and baseline and—in a nod to the past—the exclamation point (re-canted). Oh, and now the whole thing is purple. And animated.
I leave it to others to decide if the new logo is a success. (So far, the best worst thing it has been called is “the new Coke.”) I’ve rarely visited the site and never understood the yodel, let alone the punctuation. But brand and graphic designers everywhere should be disturbed by Mayer’s attitude toward the project: “I’m not a pro but I know enough to be dangerous. :)” (Yes, she added the emoticon.) This is a statement that should strike fear in everyone who works in our business.
It’s great when clients take the time to understand what we do on a technical level and contribute thoughtfully to the process. A good client is an educated client. But to assume that just because you love “brands, logos, color, design and, most of all, Adobe Illustrator” makes you a practitioner of the craft is hubris. It does not demonstrate an understanding of your brand, your target and the marketplace. It does not advance your business. (Or ours.) It is not reflective of a strategy other than some self-conversant justification. (Yahoo! meet Hightail.) There’s a tremendous power imbalance. And it’s more than a little “dangerous,” in Yahoo!’s case, to the shareholders.
Marissa Mayer may be a woman of many talents but a logo designer she is not. Yahoo!? Yah-eeuw!