The new logo of Yellow Pages

Not too often an iconic Canadian brand changes its logo. So, this is big news… and an exciting one too. My first reaction to Yellow Pages’ new logo was not totally positive, so I decided to sleep on it, before writing this post.

Let’s start by giving you a little background info. Their CMO said: “The new YPG logo positions us as resolutely modern, innovative, and digital. While significant changes have been made, we kept our most important assets building on over 100 years of vested brand equity; our famous yellow colour is bolder and our trademarked Walking FingersTM– one of the most recognized icons worldwide – continues to be at the heart of our identity.”

The company generates about 20% of its revenue from digital media and plans to invest in that direction. As a matter of fact, it is a little known fact that YPG owns many popular websites such as 411.ca (25%), canadaplus.com, restaurantica.com and autotrader.com (through Trader Corp.) . Their handy mobile app has been around for a while too. To my knowledge, the only service Yellow Pages launched with the new logo is the reviews section of their website. Other than that, the branding initiative actually comes with very little news-worthy announcement.

The new logo is clearly an improvement over the old mark. Light yellow is more contemporary. It has an energy to it. Yet it looks less corporate. Also, fingers and the typography are no longer in black, but in grey. While it portrays a more modern look on the web, I find the new visual identity to look fainted on “printed” materials and especially on the signage on top of YPG headquarters. It does not look energetic on printed materials at all. Overall, the new logo looks more appealing and energetic than the previous version (with the exception of grey) to younger audience and I believe that is the goal.

The rendering of the fingers is modern and less detailed. However, the pebble shape (or a guitar pick?), is a big question mark to me. I suppose it symbolizes something you can hold in your hand (the mobile app), but I simply cannot see the connection. Yes, the directory is gone, signalling YPG’s decreasing dependence on the print business. Yet, the new symbol does not tell me anything else. In my POV, the amorphous shape and the absence of directory mean losing equity.

As per typography, there is an intentional imbalance between the type weights of “Yellow” and “Pages”. I can only assume that the company is moving away from “Pages”. Is this part of a transition strategy, at the end of which “Pages” would be dropped and the company would evolved into “Yellow”? If this is the case, then I see the current re-branding as a missed opportunity. They should have renamed the company to Yellow, Yellow Media or Yell (as in the UK) and avoided costly transition. If I am mistaken, then there has to be another explanation for the imbalanced type weight. And I am curious to know why.

Finally, a few words about the ads. They are well done, tasteful humorous, again targeting younger audience. Yet, last time I checked Yellow Pages had apps for iPhone, Blackberry and Android. Yet, in all three ads, we see the hero using an iPhone. It is a small detail. Yet, devil is in details.

Ad-1: Misinterpreted

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhE8U7vffVs&feature=related

Ad-2: Oily

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4Gj_2i_qwM&feature=related

Ad-3: Photocrasher

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-tRwOu1p_0&feature=related

Overall, this is a clear improvement over the old mark. Yet, given the iconic status of the brand, I expected more. Nevertheless, congrats to everyone who was involved. Such a transition for a company of YPG’s size is a tough task.

About Soydanbay

I am a passionate brand consultant who has a rare ability to combine rational thinking and creative intelligence. I give my clients the freedom to express their brands and deliver compelling customer experiences. I love branding. Actually I am obsessed with it.

Posted on March 29, 2010, in Brand & Communication Strategy, Brand Identity, Change Management and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I don’t think they went far enough with the name. Unless they are going to try to bury the word “pages” and try for a visual only. “Yell” is brilliant.

    The logo is a big, over due improvement. Lighter color, updated fingers are both good moves. Aren’t we over with the liquid drop look yet?

    • I agree Randy. Yell would have been an interesting idea to consider. As per the amorphous shape, I cannot get used to it. Not because it is new, but because it could have been much better. Thanks for your comment!

  2. I think that the pebble / guitar-pick / liquid drop is supposed to be very vaguely triangular in order to subtly reference the multiplatform aspect: print, internet, and mobile.

    • That is a smart comment Chris. At the end of the day design should mean something. However, as you said, it is subtle and I still believe that they should have been bolder and more courageous with whatever their message is.

  3. I agree the new logo shape is odd – it does look strange on the HQ building – but overall is a nice makeover that was long overdue. Now if they would just stop dumping that huge print bible on every doorstep, they will have really moved into the 21st century. :)

  4. Having first hand experience in the UK, I am not a fan of the Yell brand due to the contradictions associated with the Yellow Pages product and the term ‘Yell’.

    I still remember the advert from the 90′s of where the boy used the book to kiss the girl that was taller than he was. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GElOGkCBrHw) I will always associate the brand with the book that has the contact details for a local service that you need.

    The book in the UK is still branded as the Yellow Pages, the Yell brand is for their digital products and is marketed at those ‘professional types’ that grace the streets of London eating salads from Mc Donalds and inconveniently read Harry Potter on the Tube.

    The circular form of the new Yellow Pages logo reminds me of the forms from the touch-tone phone keypads of the mid-60′s. An innovation of its time and still timeless to this day.

  5. Hi el_mariachi, thanks for your comment.

    You are right. The word “yell” has a negative meaning and I would not favour it.

    Yet, to my knowledge, with the rebranding, the holding company renamed itself to “Yellow Media”. That is why (and also because of what they are signaling with imbalanced type weight) I think it was a missed opportunity.

  6. Nice post! Agree, it is a missed opportunity.
    The topic is very interesting since the brand is one of the oldest.
    We are in preparations for similar re-branding, but have decided to start from scratch and re-build YP brand DNA. You can follow us on http://twitter.com/ypobg

  7. Yellow Pages does not own 411.ca, they only own 25%. 411.ca is a privately owned company.

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