is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Vice President of User Experience at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. You can reach him through one of the services below.+
This is the kind of nonsense that results from fundamentally misunderstanding what a logo is. As has been widely reported (and lamented by designers), Yahoo engaged in a bit of stunt identity design over the past month or so, fielding thirty re-imaginings of the company’s logo, one per day, You can see the first twenty-nine on this page, and when it loads in your browser, don’t feel bad if you think for a moment that you’ve stumbled across one of those sites that promises you hundreds of fonts for free — most of these logos are half-hearted at best.
To Yahoo’s credit, they did not put the logos forward as candidates, i.e., they refrained from asking the Internet to vote on them. That didn’t stop market research startup Survata from doing just that, though.
“We were curious about which logo consumers preferred as the best fit for the Internet giant, so we used the Survata logo testing tool to find out. We asked 12,725 respondents to pick their favorite of five logo variants (randomly selected from the 28 variants released prior to publication).”
Just skimming the results they’ve published on the Survata blog demonstrates the absurdity of both their own research and the fact that Yahoo put these logos out into the world. This “face-off chart” in particular has all the charm of pulling out a spreadsheet on a date.
A logo is really a visual manifestation of all the complex ideas, values and people that fuel a company — crunched and munged and somehow blacksmithed together to look simple and understandable. It does nothing for one’s confidence in the Yahoo brand to see that the company cares so little for its public image that it would be willing to float thirty random, meaningless expressions of itself out there, expressions that have clearly not been through the real process of logo development. It just looks like Yahoo doesn’t take this seriously.
Imagine that I threw four wheels and a mess of auto parts together, with no regard to how they actually function or work as a single machine, and said, “What do you think of this car?” Actually it’s as if I did that thirty times. And then someone came along and asked 12,000 people to vote on their favorite pile of wheels and auto parts. What good could come of that?+