Pentagram partner Michael Bierut and his team in New York have designed a new identity for the internet giant Yahoo. Founded in 1995, Yahoo was a pioneer, one of the very first major web services, and is still used today by millions of people around the world to find the information they’re looking for online. This is the first significant change to the brand since its previous logo was introduced in 2013.
“Its original 1996 logo reflected the spirit of those times: exuberant, fun, and irreverent,” Michael tells It’s Nice That, explaining the project. “The new design in 2013 was meant to reflect the maturation of both Yahoo and the online world. We missed the boldness and youthful confidence of that original mark, and in fact devoted a lot of time to revisiting its idiosyncrasies, which were plentiful.”
But this journey back to the 1996 identity didn’t yield enough. “We discovered it was like going back to a playground you remembered from when you were a kid. It just wasn’t the same,” Michael says. Plus, the Yahoo identity today has to work across a broad range of sub-brands and “on platforms at scales no one in 1996 could have imagined”.
The result was that he and his team had to start again from scratch, trusting the Yahoo brand to do a lot of the work. “[We were] confident that the name itself conveyed the spirit of fun, and it just needed the right amount of quirkiness to carry it forward,” says Michael. “We found that quirk in the italicised exclamation mark – an element that had been there all along, and one that, juxtaposed with their initial letter, could make a new mark for the new challenges they face.”
The identity appears in purple, Yahoo’s signature colour since 2003. (Internally, the rebranding was called “Project Purple”.) The designers refined the palette and made it more contemporary, selecting a primary purple (a bright shade they nicknamed “grape jelly”) and secondary purples (“hulk pants” and “malbec”), as well as accent colours.
The identity reflects a new brand strategy for Yahoo that focuses on helping users find a more personalised, customised experience online. According to Pentagram, with its new products, Yahoo will empower users to better sift out irrelevant parts of the digital world, giving them more control of what they see and when they see it. The strategy positions Yahoo as an “amplification brand”, amplifying the things that matter. The idea is neatly visualised in Yahoo’s exclamation point, which literally stands for amplification.