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  Aol's transformed brand identity


How the new Aol identity behaves is more important than any of the specific marks of the brand.

This brand transformation demonstrates (further) why it is of limited value to think of brand identity in terms of the design of the logo. The types of marks chosen and how those marks relate to each other is what needs to be assessed in order to appreciate the value of this brand identity.

Aol may have been born in a different era of the internet but the new identity demonstrates that it has grasped the nature of those changes and is serious about moving forward in a way that is relevant to its users.

The name may be problematic but it has equity. Internet users are familiar with Aol, they know broadly where to place the brand and as a result of this transformed identity they have good reason to re-evaluate their relationship to the services on offer.

A discussion about the design of the wordmark is pointless. There is very little that has been 'designed' to appreciate. A proprietary personality emerges from the behaviour of the brand; not the design. At best a qualification of design as a configuration of the elements might make sense but this is a definition of considerably less value than of design as 'form-giving'. Other than the fact that Aol ends with a period and that the form of the brandmark is intentionally generic the design of the wordmark has nothing about it that warrants attention.

In the context of the internet, the period makes sense. It adds meaningful 'textual' personality to the wordmark. It also offers a visual and conceptual 'grounding' that holds the identity relatively stable in a seething flux of infinitely variable content.

The reveal idea indicates how all providers of internet content delivery services should perhaps behave. The Aol brandmark appears as part of the background until it is made visible by content. This is a very clever use of the medium to communicate the reason the brand exists.

Aol has been transformed into another type of brand from the brands consumers are more accustomed to. It reflects another kind of thinking for an emerging era in brand experience enabled by digital media. This makes the new Aol brand identity just like its primary brand mark layered over content...

... outstanding.


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