SAN FRANCISCO — Yahoo has refreshed its logo for the first time since shortly after the Internet company’s founding 18 years ago.
The new look unveiled late Wednesday is part of a makeover that Yahoo Inc. has been undergoing since the Sunnyvale, Calif., company hired Google executive Marissa Mayer to become Yahoo’s CEO 14 months ago.
Mayer has already spruced up Yahoo’s home page, email and Flickr photo-sharing service, as well as engineered acquisitions aimed at attracting more traffic on mobile devices. The shopping spree has been highlighted by Yahoo’s $1.1 billion purchase of Tumblr, an Internet blogging service, through which the company rolled out its new logo.
The redesigned logo retains some of the elements of the old one, including the company’s official color: purple.
Yahoo’s familiar exclamation point, meant to punctuate a yodeling sound that has long been the company’s calling card, is still there, too, but with a twist. When visitors come to Yahoo’s home page or an app, the exclamation point dances across some lettering before settling at the end of the company’s name at a slight tilt of nine degrees.
“We knew we wanted a logo that reflected Yahoo — whimsical, yet sophisticated,” Mayer wrote on her Tumblr account. She hailed the redesigned looks as “modern and fresh, with a nod to our history. Having a human touch, personal. Proud.”
Mayer, 38, said she spent most of one weekend this summer with four Yahoo colleagues — Bob Stohrer, Marc DeBartolomeis, Russ Khaydarov and intern Max Ma — to come up with the new logo’s look.
To drum up more interest in the changeover, Yahoo spent the past
30 days showing some of the proposed logos that Mayer and her helpers cast aside.
This revision is Yahoo’s first significant change to its logo since a few tweaks shortly after co-founders Jerry Yang and David Filo incorporated the company in 1995.
Because Yahoo’s logo is so recognizable, it’s a good thing that the company kept the changes relatively minor, branding expert Laura Ries of the Atlanta firm Ries & Ries said.
“One of the worst things in the world you can do is have a log around for two decades and then do something totally different. It’s quite unsettling for consumers,” she said.
Keeping the purple and the exclamation point was a good idea, she said.
Mayer’s overhaul of Yahoo has attracted a lot of attention, but so far it hasn’t provided a significant lift to the company’s revenue. Yahoo depends on Internet advertising — an area in which the company’s growth has been anemic — to make most of its money. More marketing dollars have been flowing to rivals such as Google Inc. and Facebook Inc.
A new logo is an important part of updating Yahoo, Ries said, but at the end of the day, the company has to do a better job of “verbalizing what exactly Yahoo is.”
“There’s nothing wrong with improving something, putting lipstick on something, but at the end of the day, is it a pig or not?” Ries said. “That is the question.”
Yahoo’s stock value has climbed by nearly 80 percent, but most of that gain has been driven by the company’s 24 percent stake in China’s Alibaba Holdings Group. Investors prize Alibaba because it has emerged as one of the fastest growing companies on the Internet.