Los Angeles -- AOL has renewed its logo and plans to launch the new look after it is liberated from its oppressive Time Warner overlords, as it faces a tough year ahead. But AOL is trying to emerge from this rough patch as a stronger company -- previewed its new brand identity Monday and stepped up its seemingly eternal campaign to reduce its workforce.
The company this week is demonstrating “its new brand identity for its future as an independent company devoted to creating the world's most simple and stimulating content and online experiences.”
The company is offering takeovers of about 2,500 members of its workforce as it attempts to reduce its employee headcount by nearly a third over the next few months. The once high-flying company and its nearly ubiquitous online greeting -- “You've Got Mail” -- still has several vibrant features and the company believes it will be in a better position to exploit them as a standalone operation.
The company's revamped brand identity is planned to be fully unveiled on Dec. 10, one day after it formally becomes an independent company “committed to creating the world's most simple and stimulating content and online experiences.”
“Our new identity is uniquely dynamic. Our business is centered on delivering world-class experiences for consumers, and AOL is focused on creative and talented people -- employees, partners, and advertisers. We have a clear-cut strategy that we are passionate about, and we plan on standing behind the AOL brand as we take the company into the next decade,” Tim Armstrong, AOL chairman and CEO, said in a statement.
Millions of Americans cut their eye-teeth on AOL's dial-up and e-mail service, but after it incorporated with Time Warner in 2000 at the boom of the tech bubble in a multi-billion dollar transaction -- said to be the largest merger in U.S. history -- the company began losing traction almost immediately. Even AOL's former chairman Steve Case called for AOL to be split off from Time Warner after it became evident the merger was a failure. Since Jan. 10, 2000, the day the merger was announced, Time Warner stock has slipped from $184 a share to $42.
The old AOL logo
The old logo possessed all capital letters and a triangular object with a circle in it. So, what is a new AOL look like? The new logo will only have a capital “A” and lowercase “o” and “l” and a period at the end of the name. The new logo also breathes out a friendlier, more approachable vibe, especially when paired with a rotating background images -- a goldfish, the metal sign, and a purple thing that appears to be the inside of a lava lamp.
Some of the new AOL logos
AOL partnered with Wolff Olins, a “global brand and innovation consultancy” to create a new brand identity including the new logos seen above.
“Historically, brand identity has been monolithic and controlling, little more than stamping a company name on a product. AOL is a 21st century media company, with an ambitious vision for the future and new focus on creativity and expression, and this required the new brand identity to be open and generous, to invite conversation and collaboration, and to feel credible, but also aspirational,” said Karl Heiselman, CEO of Wolff Olins.
“We are delighted to have worked so closely with the AOL leadership team to create something bold and exciting that sets AOL apart,” he said.
AOL's Armstrong announced the latest layoffs last week. The firm is now headquartered in New York, but keeps a major operation in northern Virginia in suburban Washington D.C. A former advertising chief at Google, Armstrong has led a series of pep talk sessions at AOL in recent months and has said he will decline a bonus this year.
The merger has been a manna from heaven for Steve Case, who has thrived on his spoils from the merger. Last week, his Revolution Money online payments company was acquired by American Express for about $300 million.