Why I Think eBay’s New Logo Change is a Mistake

Ah, eBay, that site full of auctions and deals that seems to have grown with the internet since it was founded in 1995. eBay has given millions of people a chance to earn a little extra income, and some people have even made careers and businesses out of selling things online with eBay’s service. This is all great, but eBay is still a business like any other. That means it has to deal with branding itself just as much as any other business does.

Fellow CEM contributor Ben did a great story on the 2012 Olympics Logo and how experimentation with your brand or logo can backfire. To many people, the logo of a company represents the brand. I like to think there’s a difference between a logo and the concept of a brand, but it’s not very important for what I want to get across today.

eBay Unveils its First Logo Change since 1995

If you didn’t hear, eBay unveiled a new logo earlier this month amidst a lot of other news that somewhat buried the story. eBay is the next in a short list of big names adopting new logos. Microsoft recently announced it was changing logos as well. eBay isn’t planning on full adoption until the fall, however.

Logo changes are not a new thing. Many big companies have had a history of pretty successful changes in their logos and their brands over the years. One in particular that I think eBay could have taken a few pointers from (which I’ll explain later) is Coca-Cola, which Ben examined pretty in depth.

But eBay reps claim that their logo now represents, as the company President Devn Wenig stated, “our connected and diverse eBay community.” I get it eBay. You’re building your brand. You want to look more contemporary and official. You’re a serious marketplace for everyone on the web to buy and sell what they want.

eBay Took the Uniqueness Out of its Logo

In its attempt to “modernize” and look more contemporary, eBay took away from its logo that funky alignment that set it apart from other tech logos like Google and Microsoft. It seems like eBay thinks it has to change its logo in order to rebrand itself as a modern marketplace. I don’t think that’s the case. In fact, I think they took the easy road; they almost sold out, in a way.

Let’s be honest, Google has already cornered the market on multi-colored letters and the straight-and-organized look. Even though eBay came before Google, no one can deny that the Google brand and logo have far surpassed the reach of eBay’s. You don’t hear anyone saying, “you should eBay that!”

Honestly, whenever I look at that new logo, I get confused. Confusing customers is not a great first step in introducing them to your brand. My thoughts immediately move to: “Shouldn’t it say Google in colorful letters? Why does it say eBay? Man, they sure look like they are copying Google.” I think eBay should have found a way to update their previous logo, not depart entirely from their cool and creative old look.

Take a look at what Google, Kodak, Microsoft, MasterCard, GE, and Walmart have done in the past with their logos here. They managed to keep the soul of their logos while building their brands. The modern Coca-Cola logo has barely changed over the years and it’s one of the most recognized symbols on the planet.

One thing to learn from eBay’s new logo

If you run a business, it’s important to have a logo. It’s a part of building your brand. A logo is especially important for an online presence as well. Make sure your logo captures a key value or characteristic of your business or your products. I’m not an artistic person, but there are plenty of designers out there that can help you out!

When you make a logo or update yours, do your customers a favor—don’t make it look in any way like another big company’s logo. At best, you’ll confuse or turn off prospective leads; at worst you could get into some trademark trouble.

Do you think eBay’s new logo looks too much like Google’s?

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Patrick currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is studying for a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations. Upon graduation from Penn State in 2008, he spent two years overseas in Kyrgyzstan with the U.S. Peace Corps. While writing is currently his chosen way to put food on the table, he loves fitness and exercise, which he believes makes up for his avid computer gaming habit.

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