What would you do with Yahoo?
Marissa Meyer was not really on the radar for the top job at Yahoo, and so the announcement that she'd be starting today as CEO surprised many in the industry worldwide. Reaction in Silicon Valley has been fairly positive, as Marissa is a well-known and well-liked figure there, but nobody underestimates the difficulty of the task before her to turn around the rudderless Yahoo. Add the fact that she's seven months pregnant, and you have to take your hat off to her for bravery. Investors seem fairly happy too, with shares up just over 2.3 per cent in after-hours trading yesterday.
Yahoo in the mid 1990s was almost indistinguishable from 'the internet' for many online users, and it innovated and grew steadily, but often failed to develop or monetise effectively, even when acquiring external companies. And then along came Google, and social media, and Yahoo started to slip from its once dominant position. It has continued to struggle, and has seen headcount slashed, talent leave, and revenues fall. The full extent of the state it's in will become clear later today when second quarter results are released.
But what does Yahoo need from a marketing point of view?
To me, Yahoo is a weak brand, with poor and inconsistent execution of its identity across its different products and services, and its core visual identity is stuck in a time-warp: - dated, inelegant, and careworn. It's still Yahoo!® with an exclamation mark - but it is never referred to as Yahoo! anywhere it's written about. So losing the exclamation mark is long overdue.
Yahoo is at present neither fish nor fowl. In my view, it is in desperate need of rebranding, and the media areas where it has great strength such as news and finance need to be refocused. An important consideration in developing the branding is the fact that it is likely more emphasis will come from Meyer in terms of Yahoo becoming more product-led and focusing more on technical innovation. In a statement announcing the news, Yahoo co-founder David Filo called Mayer a leader in user experience and product design.
It's an important moment in time for Yahoo. What would you do?