Thursday, October 21, 2004

Promoting AOL's new identity

AOL is using a subtle yet jarring tactic as they continue to promote their new corporate identity. In one ad in particular that has been running during the MLB playoffs, an AOL Member stands on a conference table barking demands about features and performance to an eager group of AOL employees. The message about responsiveness and the like is obviously none too subtle. The subtle part is more in the set design. The conference room is rimmed with the old AOL mark.

It is a bit strange to see a lame duck logo so prominently placed in an ad campaign. If an old logo does appear in an ad, chances are it will soon be shattered or crushed by its newer vintage. One would imagine AOL is looking bridge the old and the new. The old logo is, after all, fairly well recognized - even for non-members who've been bombarded with free discs for years. Perhaps the old logo offers some context. This is an ad about AOL - and look, we're listening.

But what the clich├ęd exploding old logo thing does that this ad does not is offer a segue. All of a sudden, at the end of the ad, the new, less distinctive logo appears. Wouldn't AOL have been better off using the new mark as a backdrop in the scene? Wouldn't the presence of this new mark have underscored their message that they continue to be responsive to a changing marketplace and an evolving customer?

As for the mark itself, fresher, cleaner, more contemporary - it's all of these. But it also lacks some of that folksy personality that has always been a part of the AOL brand.

And AOL seems to have come to the conclusion that customers want a more protected and secure Web experience. Security and comfort in online credit card transactions and the like are obviously key to success for AOL in getting members to open their wallets further beyond their monthly fee. But the "Peace of Mind" they have promoted in full page newspaper ads is kind of hard to get excited about. Broadband customers already pay up to $50/month for access. I would think AOL needs something more alluring than an insurance policy to get people to pony up an additional $25 on top of their access fees - especially if they hope to expand relevance beyond tweens and seniors.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

They could always use something fresh at AOL.


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