By Jennifer Farley

New Branding and Logos for AOL

By Jennifer Farley

AOL previewed a new set of logos this week, and is often the case with rebranding, the reaction from designers has been mixed. Gone is the little running guy and the blue triple triangle object, and in comes a variety of photographic and graphic logos. Oh and it’s also no longer uppercase AOL but rather Aol with a full stop.


Another unusual feature of the logo is the use of photography rather than vector graphics or symbols. The new branding was carried out in consultation with Wolf Olins and a number of artists and graphic designers were involved including Universal Everything, GHAVA and Dylan Griffin. The concept is that the image will change while the type treatment will remain consistent.

Image Credit : GHAVA

The old AOL logos.

The spiel from AOL CEO Tim Armstrong;

Our new identity is uniquely dynamic. Our business is focused on creating world-class experiences for consumers and AOL is centered on creative and talented people–employees, partners, and advertisers. We have a clear strategy that we are passionate about and we plan on standing behind the AOL brand as we take the company into the next decade.

As for the new full stop (period), Tim Armstrong described it as “the AOL dot” because “the dot is the pivot point for what comes after AOL,” That may be websites, email or other surprises.

The new branding will kick in from December 10 this year when Aol starts trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Personally, I like the idea of the changing images but there’s a somewhat unfinished look about each one and I’ve seen them described quite aptly elsewhere as looking more like a mood board than a logo. It will be interesting to see how it’s implemented, but it all seems a little vague. You can read the full AOL press release here.

So what do you think of the new branding?

  • The new logos will now represent AOL as what it really is, and has always been…


  • AndyT

    … I don’t get it. Surely this is a joke.

  • My220x

    Ugly as hell.

  • The AOL dot? How much were the marketing execs drinking that lunchtime? It sums up AOL nicely, though … everyone will be asking “what’s the point?”

  • bradleyjond


  • kingkool68

    I rather like the idea. The concept of a dynamic background isn’t too different than Google’s logo doodles or Bings main search page background image. It keeps things fresh and interesting. The MTV logo comes to mind with this too!

    The dot is a great idea for bringing together all of their content and will be used like Aol.Shopping and Aol.MapQuest etc.

  • Ketira

    New logo or not, it’s still AOHell to me. Good for newbies to the Internet, but bad for those of us who like logging on TO the Internet without any proxies slowing us down…

    …like me.

    I was thinking, “Did April Fool’s for next year come early?”

  • tinjaw

    Let’s call a spade a spade. They paid some company millions of dollars to rebrand AOL and they ended up with crap. I worked for Borland when they (thankfully) were (temporarily) named Inprise. It was a huge hit on company morale back then. We hated the name. I am absolutely positive the rank and file employees think this new logo stuff sucks. I am not a “branding expert” but surely Branding 101 has to be “Instantly recognizable. Must stand out in a sea of logos. Must be used everywhere, consistently, to develop brand recognition.” Having multiple logos that look like crap and have nothing unique about them (What will be their company color scheme, for example?) seems to me to be a major fail. Oh well, for me AOL/Aol. has been non-existent since about the time of CompuServe, GEnie, and Prodigy. I think the last time I used AOL I used a V.34 modem.

  • randywehrs

    The idea is there, but there’s just no follow-through! If they actually designed a really nice white figure/ground form of “Aol” or “AOL” to go over-top of all these silly images it would be one thing – but instead they just used over-simplified Arial Black, I believe. And added a period. Snore. It also would help if they used better images. What is that hideous blue swirl? It looks like an 8-year-old’s poorly-constructed Illustrator doodle. They got ripped off. This is pre-web2.0 work. I think the only heads they’ll be turning with this logo are ones wondering, what were they thinking?…

  • jphilapy

    several thoughts come to my mind when I see these logos

    1) blahhht what is that?
    2) Did artists actually design these?
    3) Where do I get the program at to do those incredibly amazing font layouts!?!?!?!
    4) Perhaps I am in the wrong line of work. My artwork is as bad as theirs, maybe I can get on board and pitch aol.
    5) I liked the older aol logo better
    6) These logos look incredibly close to how I have always envisioned aol.


  • Tom Marsh

    Hey! nobody cares.

  • cwcage

    My initial reaction is – ?? The grid of images makes me think of my choices of user icon images in Windows.

    But I will say I do like the use of the new logo in the video on their corporate site. I like the idea of a logo that becomes more like negative space and uses the idea of visual closure for the viewer to fill in the gaps.

  • Jay

    I cant believe this is real. This is the worst logo/rebranding Ive ever seen. Not recognizable, very confusing, and “Aol.” is the worst possible combination of uppercase/lowercase/punctuation they could’ve picked.

  • solaera

    Wow…I don’t pretend to be the best out there at logo design but speaking just from the objective consumer standpoint those things are really hard on the eyes — particularly the one with the hot-air-balloon/jellyfish/cauliflower/tree-with-a-tongue thing on the second row. It kind of hurts trying to pick out the letters, which seems like its producing the opposite effect from what a logo should really be going for — trying to play up the brand identity.

    I’m really surprised that this is the best that a big company like AOL could come up with. Especially given the general trend of the comments on this post — did they not do market testing?

  • Anonymous

    thanks all the time, These Christian louboutin shoes was one of fashion’s best-kept secrets:means Christian shoes has attracted a growing clientele for whom the fact that he is not a household name is all part of the appeal. “The minute we receive a delivery of his Louboutin shoes, they sell out. Keeping up with the demand is becoming quite difficult.

  • The result is: the new AOL logo is a text-only logo. The images behind it never counts. You can change a logo but cannot change the rules of brand recognition. An everchanging image behind the letters will never make the impression on people that it’s part of the brand identity.

    See a nice use of text-only logo on images:

  • @glenngould Lol, you couldn’t find a logo with less explicit results. =p

    Anyways, I can’t believe how bad their redesign is… Even if it’s a text-only logo, they could have at least used a custom (or at least not-so-common) font.

  • I think the agency who designed these concepts are really lacking thinking and if these are real logos than i must say aol will get negative reviews not only from design community but also end users of aol products and it may results in low ROI.

    I still can’t believe that this is real and fact.

    Atul Thanvi
    Web Designer

  • Anonymous

    i agree totally with what everyone is saying here i think the idea is a real dumb one and in some of the


    i cant even make out the AoL properly… i wonder how much they lumped up for these ideas?

  • Absolutely hideous. It looks like they took a photo and dumped some horrible typeface on it. Also their name is an acronym and therefore should be uppercase. It looks ridiculous like this.

  • wahahhaha! these are PERFECT for aol.

  • My first impression is the designers were working on the tightest budget in history…

  • Tightest budget my eye. Some firm made more money on this 5-minute, high-school design class logo than I make in a year.

  • I agree.. just being sarcastic…

  • NetNerd85

    the internet says it best with: wtf!?

  • G

    Surely its the idea of one of those “OH i can do design” people!!

    Not good.

  • I was never a big fan of the one before. I like the simplicity of the type and I even get the full stop. I’m just not sure about the photos, what do they actually say about AOL? When I first say these I just thought of the old Nickelodeon logos.

  • Lol.

  • Olly Goldstein

    Ok i’ve not had time to spend this evening looking at these long enough to pass judgement on another designer’s work.
    However I will say this

    The company is and always was AOL
    A O L

    Now its Aol.

    Ok so seeing as my education was well spent on by my parents as a child (although not so well spent timewise by me!), I learned some grammar in school see the word AOL i know it’s not a WORD it’s all in capitals – hence A.O.L and read as such

    This now Aol. has become a word.
    Ok, so like google, yahoo etc, who created a great brand by making up their own word, AOL seems to have hopped on the wagon too, albeit by mistake.

    The first thing I did was try to read it (even though I knew it was an AOL logo from Sitepoints text in the article before I saw the logos.

    What did I read? Well you read it!

    Dunno about you

    I immediately read

    A-‘ole — or a-hole

    Surely somebody somewhere noticed this? Scrolling through the posts above (rather quickly albeit) seems nobody here has yet….

    Maybe I have the advantage of not having AOL really in this country (though of course know them well growing up in uk) and those dreaded free cds every day….so i don’t think along the lines of A.O.L only and easily can look from a slightly different angle

    But what about all those NEW customers they try to reach who HAVEN”T heard of AOL yet (who i guess a majority of their target audience is? seeing as it’s a newbie’s type product)
    Will they now read A.O.L – I doubt it it will be either aole and said as such…or a-‘ole!

    As if the free cd littering with every mag and doorstep wasn’t enough to get an awful reputation with a prospect before said prospect learns of the awful product it really is…… now they think let’s call a spade a spade, and call ourselves ass holes?
    Well hey we in the advertising industry know, any news is good news — but ummm is any advertising good advertising???

    And PS
    Have now second glanced at the logos
    RE The image with the rocker dude in leather
    Didn’t anybody inform the designer that umm white on white DOESNT show? The white dot doesnt’ seem to be in this image
    Rather the designer got trigger happy with the eraser tool, or AOL cant afford good models for their photo shoots and resort to using bikers who have bits missing from their foreheads.

    PPS In no means was this article meant to offend or bear any relevance to any real-life persons who have pieces missing from their foreheads, by means of sickness or accident, or by being a victim of the web designer turned prisoner on the loose, which people have been warned to stay away from as the suspect is known to be armed with an eraser tool.

    PPPS Without wanting to get too dirty/risque… if it is read a-hole…..what are the little 8 yr old kiddies (or 30yr olds with warped minds like mine) supposed to think the dot is supposed to resemble?!!! (SORRY couldnt resist, tried…failed miserably)

  • Olly Goldstein

    Ok sorry i know i just wrote a long post already – but ummm having now spent 2 mins looking at the logos, i dedided that IS enough time to judge another designers work – in THIS case…… ummm is that a green scribble??? Wish i could make money putting all my sons’ artwork on the web. They’re 3 and 5 and do WAY better than that at scribbling – my 3 year old actually can scribble with both hands at the same time and so can create MULTI-COLOURED scribbles. More than I can say for this design company. Hmph!

  • Miss Pip

    What does AOL stand for? Excuse me but I am Canadian and we don’t really use AOL up here…but I was just curious how these new logos actually tie into what the represent?

    Overall, there is definitely nothing great about the new logos. However if I were to pick one – I’d go with the goldfish…just because :)

  • It’s official.. you just need to type letters to be a graphic design firm (either that or some manager got his pre-teen niece to come in after school and hammer something out). Either way, I think if AOL (sorry, make that aol.) can’t take branding seriously, I think they should just fold and be done with it. Good grief (here I thought it takes talent to make a logo.. apparently, I’m wrong.. oh wait.. I’m confusing making a logo with making a GOOD logo).

    Whatever aol. was paying, I would gladly do it for half the price and still be able to retire effective immediately. Just thinking out loud for sec, I wonder how much investment dollars were blown on idiotic corporate decisions. I gather the truth would have investors laying awake well into the night. Money well spent aol. Money. Well. Spent.

  • Chris Krapf

    If I tried presenting anything like that at my job I’d be fired.

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