Logos do matter. Just not as much as CEOs, Marketing VPs and the legion of brand consultants they employ at great expense think they do. Devin Wenig, President of eBay, has heralded eBay’s new logo with understandable restraint: “This is the new eBay”.
Wenig says of the new logo: “It’s eBay today: a global online marketplace that offers a cleaner, more contemporary and consistent experience.” But eBay isn’t the logo. It’s the people. The buyers and sellers. eBay is an idea.
If you turn Wenig’s statement on its head, you learn a lot about what he thinks about eBay’s past. And, by extension, presumably what the new cadre of eBay execs must think about auctions, collectables and non-enterprise sellers: dirty, old-fashioned and inconsistent. Having been involved with eBay since 1999, I object to that caricature.
And anyway. None of that reflects on the old eBay logo. People have often told me things about eBay that need change or reform. There is always a tweak or reordering of fees to be considered. Selling policies could benefit from a sober review. Customer support provision deserves improvement. Basic facilities like My eBay and TurboLister need the 2012 treatment. Plenty of eBay merchants would appreciate lavish advertising campaigns.
And as much as eBay Inc. might baulk, auctions do work. Plenty of sellers make good money selling second hand goods and antiques. eBay remains a profitable avenue for mums selling baby goods and clothes, a boon to casual sellers and a place for pensioners to flog off a few desirable retro items. That BIN has become so popular is a delight. But it doesn’t mean the eBay of old is dead, Indeed, it shows there is space for Uncle Angus and Argos alike.
Never. NEVER. Have I ever heard anyone say: “we’d make more money if eBay changed the logo.” That goofy font. Those overlapping letters. The primary colours. It was never cool and never sexy. But it worked well enough. In fact, I’d say people loved it. Frankly, I love it.
A logo change, in any business, costs money. In eBay’s case it will likely cost many millions to ensure brand consistency. Everything with a logo on it will need to be changed: offices, websites, clothing, to name but a few instances. And anyone else using the eBay logo too, will need to adjust. I know at least one eBay Powerseller from Nebraska USA who will be regretting her tattoo.
But will this logo change make money? No. Of course not. Not in itself. It is perhaps a show of confidence from the eBay leadership and a vindication of the recent results that have pleased Wall Street.
So perhaps Wenig is right: “This is the new eBay.” An eBay Inc. that thinks it is in control. An eBay bigger than its community. An eBay that knows better than its sellers and buyers. And an eBay that is trying to be Amazon, but with limited success.
The logo changes but eBay stays the same. I try to imagine what Pierre Omidyar thinks. I wonder whether replacing the old logo isn’t a welcome act from a new emperor. Perhaps at least now we know eBay is naked to those who look hard enough.