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Mayer's First Big Public Failure or a Step in the Right Direction?

Mayer's First Big Public Failure or a Step in the Right Direction? Mayer's First Big Public Failure or a Step in the Right Direction?
09/17/13
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by Nissa Ostroff
Yahoo’s new logo has just come out and was immediately coined “Mayer’s first big public failure.” It has been called too “sleek,” “modern,” and “premium” for an internet brand.

The new logo is one of CEO Marissa Mayer’s ideas to reignite consumer interest in Yahoo and hopefully drive Energized Differentiation – a quality that BAV has found gets most consumers excited about a brand. If Mayer envisions Yahoo as a “sleek,” “modern,” and premium” internet brand, we say all the more power to her. Her challenge, however, will be to motivate people using competitive sites to use Yahoo, without alienating the consumers that love Yahoo in it's more simple, friendly, down-to-earth form.

BAV data shows that, in 2001, Yahoo lived among brands like Starbucks, Smirnoff Ice, and HBO. It scored high on Daring, Dynamic, Innovative, Intelligent, Progressive, and Trendy.

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Fast forward to Yahoo’s brand identity in 2012. Yahoo is Social, Friendly, Reliable, Down to Earth, Trustworthy, Up to Date, Fun, and Helpful.

Consumers equate YAHOO’s brand essence with that of brands like Friendly’s, Fisher Price, and Miller Lite. While these brands are known and loved, they lack Energized Differentiation. These are the brands we take for granted; we are so used to having them in our everyday lives that we don’t have emotion for them anymore, and they are merely about function. You may love Miller Lite, but chances are you love it more because of fond memories of its use in games of beer pong than for the taste of the beer itself. In other words, like Miller Lite, Yahoo has been commoditized. It is as exciting as a carton of milk.

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While Yahoo is trying to rescue itself from the deep dark depths of commoditization with a variety of tactics including Mayer’s new logo, we’re seeing Apple struggle with the issue of expanding market share while maintaining the exclusivity that powers Apple’s brand. Moreover, it’s especially important for Apple to find this balance now that a large part of the world’s growth in GDP comes from emerging markets; in the words of the New York Times, “there is a fine line between “cheaper and “cheap.”

Will Apple be able to move slightly down market and maintain the core elements of the brand? Will Yahoo overcome being a commodity and enjoy some of the fruits of premium positioning? Check back with us again as these two brands continue to evolve.

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