Don't adjust your monitor. There's something different about Yahoo!. Everything seems so… purple. That's because over the past few months we've been quietly changing the color scheme of our logos as part of a widespread campaign that we expect to complete by mid-2010. Say goodbye to the red logos that have adorned our sites for most of our existence and say hello to purple as Yahoo! enters a new chapter in its history.
For Yahoo! employees, this isn't new. We've been bleeding purple since 1996 when we anointed it as our corporate color. Why purple? Lore has it that our notoriously frugal co-founder, David Filo, got a great deal on lavender paint for our decrepit offices. But ultimately, purple evokes everything that makes working here so unique. Now we want to share that energy with you. As we give our sites a new purple glow, it seems appropriate to reflect on how far our brand has come since our beginnings in 1994. Here’s a retrospective of the Yahoo! logo and its evolution over the past 15 years.
In the beginning, Yahoo! didn't have a logo. In fact, Yahoo! wasn't even Yahoo!. Our cofounders, two Stanford University grad students procrastinating on their dissertations, created a directory of their favorite Web sites and called it "Jerry's Guide to the Web." It was simple, practical and easy to use. It wasn't until later that year that Yahoo! became the official name of the company.
After Yahoo! went from a hobby to a start-up, we needed something to adorn our office door and company t-shirts. The jumping "Y" guy was born. Designed by David Shen, our 17th employee and the lone design guy in the office, the logo shows a person jumping for joy after finding what he needs on Yahoo!. The blue circle over which the "Y" guy is leaping represents the world. Today, the "Y" guy no longer graces our hallways and conference rooms, but if you're lucky you might see him on a business card from an old-timer. Later that year, Shen partnered with ad agency Organic Online to design the logotype. Yahoo! needed a horizontal logo because it took up less space than the more vertical jumping "Y" guy. Shen and Organic made sure the letters rose towards the right "so that, upon reading the word, you would get a sense of rising energy with the exclamation point punctuating that energy at the end," according to Shen. They eventually settled on Able font, which they modified and made purple.
We decided the logo on our page needed some life, so in 1995 we decided on a logo that was bright red. This wasn't just an aesthetic choice. We also chose it because red would more reliably display across different monitors and computers, which at that time was an issue for other colors. We also liked red for its boldness.
After much tweaking and refining, we launched the red Yahoo! logo across all of our sites on January 1, 1996.
While red became the face of Yahoo! to our users, internally we were redesigning the logo. In 1996, we parted ways with the jumping "Y" guy and streamlined the logo to the now famous purple type-based version. Since then, we've been using the purple logo on everything from posters to cookies to the soles of flip flops that leave Yahoo! imprints in the sand.
Yahoo!'s abbreviated logo, affectionately known as the "Y-Bang" (“bang” is typesetter’s slang for exclamation point), was originally developed in 1997 for a button on the Yahoo! Toolbar that links to the front page (the full Yahoo! emblem was too wide to fit). In 2004 we partnered with ad agency Ogilvy to redesign the Y-Bang and created a version with a white "Y" inside a purple oval and a purple exclamation point next to it. The purple Y-Bang is now the official abbreviated logo that you will see throughout our sites.
Yahoo! is launching a new homepage with our new purple logo. We are also extending the logo to every page on our network, all of our company communications and all of our partnerships. Standardizing around the purple logo will create a consistent experience for Yahoo! users, advertisers and employees, and it will strengthen our brand going into the next decade. Go purple!
Art Director and Senior Brand Specialist