Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

AOL CEO Armstrong Talks About New Branding Effort and the Investor Road Show! (Plus Internal Aol. Logo Video)


After AOL CEO Tim Armstrong unveiled the newly punctuated AOL logo–big A, little o, little l, period–last night, he got on the horn with BoomTown to chitty-chat about the change in image and, more pertinently, how it’s going on the road show to sell investors on the soon-to-be independent company.

First off–while many suggested it–Armstrong said he never considered dumping the AOL moniker for another name, in an effort to rid the company of the 1990s feel of the brand.

“I wanted to keep AOL as the the brand, because bottom line there was a lot of good will around the name,” he said, noting the billions of dollars invested in it. “As a consumer brand, there was a high level of affection.”


Of course, I have a lot of nostalgic affection for Beanie Babies and the kids from “Saved by the Bell.” But, in no way does that mean I want them back, especially Screech.

But Armstrong prefers to use the revival of the Apple (AAPL) brand as a better comparison. “We think that kind of comeback is the way we’re looking at it,” he said.

In that case: Calling Steve Jobs, stat!

Of course, the AOL name has also forever been linked with Time Warner (TWX)–its current owner–in perhaps one of the worst mergers in history, another ding on the brand.

Armstrong agreed that that corporate debacle left a bad taste in the mouths of investors, which is one of the things he has to change during the road show he is now on to sell the new and improved AOL.

And while he is only two days into it, Armstrong said he is encouraged by the response.

“A lot of initial reaction is what we expected, and we have had to do an update on AOL to change perceptions,” he noted. “People did not know we were doing so much…and, I think, they really like our strategy.”

That would be a leaner, meaner staff with a big focus on content.


Still, Armstrong said, investors are going to take some convincing. “Basically, they want to know where we are on the AOL turnaround and are asking us if we can get this company growing again,” he said. “AOL is still the ‘Show Me’ state.”

Actually, that’s Missouri. Perhaps a better goal would be Florida: The Sunshine State!

In any case, Armstrong said it will be critical that AOL show investors that its change is authentic, innovative and meaningful.

The idea of transformation is obviously and sadly clear with AOL’s recent announcement of massive layoffs and the deleveraging of assets.

In other words, it’s not your father’s bloated online company.

On the more positive side, Armstrong said communicating a new brand image and accompanying logo–whose motto is: “one logo/countless ways to reveal” and will include a marketing and advertising campaign–is also key.

“We want to use the new logo to highlight other things within the service,” he said. “And that would be all the things that you can pivot to that come after the dot.”

Here is a first look at a video of Armstrong talking to his employees about the new logo–and, no, I have no idea what the fawn, the goldfish or the weird-looking ghosts mean–as well as images of some older AOL logos (only the yellow running man is staying put):





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