advertising and other stuff. no, really.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

AOL plans to, wait for it... rebrand.

Yep. Forget Swine flu, rebranding will affect more people this year* including AOL. Cue target-rich marketing speak environment:

“The New York company has decided to keep its iconic yellow running man. The image is a powerful one that consumers associate with AOL, says Bill Wilson, the company's president of media. As part of its rebranding push, the company is seeking a new CMO.”

Again, one more company looking to branding to bail them out.

In this case, it’s not even negative PR that they have to overcome, rather, they need to be relevant again. No, AOL Chat ain’t enough. They need to offer something people really need and want.

As a brand that helped usher in the online community portal—and flood your mail with beautiful CD wall art—they are in effect the last brand from the first dot com era to survive intact today.

Unless they focus on giving people a new experience they can’t get anywhere else, they’re over before they begin. They’ve also been eclipsed in two other areas they once ruled: Email and instant messaging. There are just too many alternatives for people now to say they need AOL the way they once did.

The change they need to win back people requires a level of innovation that built the company in the first place. Steve Jobs has engineered it into Apple. Others like Google, Amazon and Twitter all have it too. They also have leadership that has essentially remained intact.

But when you have a change at the top as you have with AOL, it’s difficult to maintain consistency. As such, I think what happens here though is that they just throw on a fresh coat of paint and run new TV spots. (Even though rebranding typically means new artwork—not hanging onto existing icons—that little guy will be on everything.)

Saving the best for last however: Hiring a new director of marketing after you rebrand.

Yep. Makes sense to me.

*Save your emails. I know the only thing killed by rebranding is good taste.


Jetpacks said...

Man - tough assignment getting them out of their hole. Maybe they can animate the little yellow man and give him a cute voice. I suggest a British accent. That way they won't seem so nationalistic.

"AOL - it's not just for dial-up anymore."

"AOL. The A now means All ya'll."

"AOL. For old time's sake, please use us."

Shit - this isn't going to be easy.

Joker said...

If there's any brand that has consistently pissed me off with their endless supply of promotional coasters, ie., the trial version CD's I got blasted with, it's these fuckers. With a full decade's worth of mistake to back it up, I wanna see them pull a hail mary.

James-H said...

Time to dust off "SugarMags420"

Aw fuck it.