Um, like, Yahoo. Or whatever.
There has been a lot of hue and cry over this new logo. And by hue and cry, I mean confused sighing at its lameness, which isn’t really hue and cry at all when you think about it, but anyway. The whole process – 30 days of a “lets throw this spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks” type of (weirdly public) crit; the odd messages from the CEO, who apparently swooped in at the last second with the Optima solution, the blame/complimenting of the intern who did a (supposedly) better mark. The whole thing doesn’t make any sense.
Lost in all this, though, is just why it’s so bad. Optima is great, even if it’s generally seen as dated. It’s an extremely well-designed face and will have many more lives in the future, so it’s not necessarily a bad choice. I think, though (and Lord knows we need another stupid opinion about the stupid Yahoo logo, but here goes), that the reason it doesn’t work is because it’s badly designed. Not that it’s inherently a bad face, or that the ideas are bad (they are, but I’ll get to that in a moment). I’m also not arguing for the old logo or against the new one. I’m arguing for not sucking.
By that, I mean, here, the matter of expertise. There is no expertise in this new logo design, and that’s why it has failed so badly. In the original Yahoo logo, attention has been paid to the whitespace between the letters, which has as much to do with the rhythm, legibility, and character of a wordmark. The new one looks like it was done by an intern with an executive pointing at the screen from over his shoulder; a collaboration of two people with no expertise – one probably fueled by ego, the other probably by fear, and it that situation there’s no room for reflection or adjustment. And there’s also no consideration of expertise. This is, by the way, why there are design consultancies in the first place, and why the process (when it’s done right) doesn’t include the client looking at the screen while you work.
So anyway, it might indeed have been time to update Yahoo, but the old logo feels better because the white space works – not in a rigid way, but in a flowing way (B,C,D) that is pretty pleasing and also goes a long way toward conveying what Yahoo was trying to convey at the time. It really is the visual equivalent of that yodel jingle.
I tried to mark out the new Yahoo whitespace in the most generous way I could (2,3,4) to try and make it make sense – I tried more shapes and fewer shapes because I didn’t want to stack the deck, but there’s no way around the confusion of the letterforms, the spacing, and the white space. This confused, arhythmic jumble is, I think, what creates the overwhelming “meh” response of the new logo. It doesn’t communicate anything and it’s doing its non-communication in a jumbled, non-designed way.
In short, kids, don’t forget the white space. That’s my point here. And you CEO kids, hire a design firm!