AOL is finally separating itself from Time Warner, which it acquired in 2001 in a transaction that exemplified “buyer’s remorse.”
After spending untold sums of money on its latest attempt at rebranding, the company is replacing its longstanding logo (the circle imprisoned inside a triangle), and changing its name from “AOL” to the following:
Aol. (The period is part of the name.)
Get it? Aol… period! The newish name will be placed in front of an ever-changing series of backgrounds, though if you’re an Internet brand trying to update your has-been reputation, perhaps you should select images that aren’t as “Grandpa’s brand” as Polaroid cameras and View-Masters.[more]
(Disclosure: I worked at AOL for about a year during the merger mania. I also maintain my personal AOL account because, in 2006, paid users were able to convert their subscriptions to free access.)
The rebranding will also include 2,300 new pink slips – leaving fewer than 5,000 workers at a company that employed 18,000 when it bought Time Warner in 2001.
“AOL” might be less Internet-hip than “LOL,” but Tim Armstrong, AOL’s chairman and CEO, says that AOL’s users still see value in the name. He also claims that AOL is still “one of the most powerful brands on the planet.”
Armstrong was a prominent player at Google, so one must assume he knows what he’s doing. But when he arrived at AOL in March, Wired’s Fred Vogelstein thought Armstong had “lost his marbles”:
The problem is that AOL doesn’t just need restructuring, it needs a brain transplant… It had a great brand. Indeed, for the first decade of its life people thought it was the Internet — like people think of Google today.
Marketwatch’s Dave Callaway hasn’t given up on AOL, however. He cites the brand’s decision to focus on content – despite buying one of the world’s largest content creators, egos and turf battles prevented true AOL-Time Warner synergy – and says that AOL “has the potential to become an immediate player in the news and entertainment market.”
But will a Google Chrome-hungry crowd even care about a new AOL? More than likely, they’ll agree with Wired’s Volgelstein, who declared, “Unlike Google, which is an innovation machine, AOL has become a place where good ideas go to die.”