SAN FRANCISCO — Internet icon Yahoo is changing its distinctive logo for the first time in nearly two decades.
The question is: To what? And will the exclamation point stay or go?
Each day over the next four weeks — the Silicon Valley company is showcasing 30 different logos on its home page. On Sept. 4, one of them will replace Yahoo’s distinctive purple Y! logo.
The company has decided on the new logo, but wants to showcase different looks to depict its “renaissance” under its new CEO, Marissa Mayer.
The logo change, the first major modification in Yahoo’s 18-year history, will be promoted in a “30 days of change” marketing campaign, company officials told USA TODAY. Yahoo tweaked its logo shortly after it was founded, but decided this time to create a bold, new look.
“The logo is your calling card, identity, manifestation,” Chief Marketing Officer Kathy Savitt says.
“The Yahoo logo is iconic; some people love it, some people hate it,” Savitt says. “We decided to change it, to reflect new products … and depict our next chapter.”
Since Mayer took over as CEO a year ago, Yahoo has scooped up more than 20 companies — including Tumblr and, last week, Rockmelt — and overhauled its existing product lineup, including its home page, Flickr and e-mail.
The charismatic Mayer has also reversed the company’s flagging fortunes, with a series of encouraging quarters, an infusion of fresh talent through acquisitions and a 70% bump in its shares. Still, Yahoo faces fierce competition from the likes of Google and Facebook for digital ads.
“We’ve been talking about changing the logo since September,” Savitt says. “The timing is right. It will reflect our brand, which is entertaining, fun, engaging, delightful, playful.”
Yahoo tinkered with the look of its logo shortly after the company was founded in 1995, but it has largely remained the same for years. In changing its iconic logo, Yahoo joins Twitter, Microsoft and eBay, which have done the same. In Yahoo’s case, it’ may tweak its typeface, color (purple) and punctuation (exclamation point), but keep the yodel sound the same, Savitt says.
“There is both risk and reward in changing a logo,” says Dennis Ryan, chief creative officer at advertising agency Olson, whose clients include Target and General Mills. He recently redid the logo for Belize, for that country’s tourism bureau. “Good logos represent every memory consumers have for a particular company.”
“Yahoo is, in many ways, the Internet’s first icon,” Savitt says. “It was the first wave for discovering content on the Web.”
Albert Tan, brand director at mobile-security start-up Lookout, which changed its logo this year, says the underlying rationale for change has more to do with where a company is headed. A logo change also requires updates to a company’s product line and mission statement, Tan says.