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Yahoo’s Branding Push Gets New Blood



yahoo-logoFor a while now there has been a lot of talk of the new and improved Yahoo. Since Carol Bartz took over as CEO there has been a more hopeful buzz around the company than back in the days of Jerry Yang.

One nagging question that keeps coming up is “What is Yahoo these days?”. Kara Swisher over at the WSJ’s All Things Digital has been keeping a watchful eye on this process. She has had some interesting conversations with Bartz and now tells of the latest addition to the team that will be leading the Yahoo of the future, Penny Baldwin.

Baldwin became an official Yahoo exec, as SVP of global integrated marketing and brand management.

Baldwin, said Yahoo (YHOO), “will lead the company’s global brand efforts, and is responsible for developing and executing Yahoo!’s brand marketing approach including brand management, corporate messaging, integrated marketing and advertising.”

Said Baldwin in a statement, signaling that Yahoo is poised for an important brand makeover: “This is a seminal moment for the Yahoo! brand and for the business overall.”

As with all things press release related, there is painting of a rosy picture and new opportunity on the horizon (Does anyone really pay attention to the fluff in press releases anymore? It’s really kind of ridiculous. Just the facts please.). Baldwin, who has significant experience at the highest levels of marketing, will be reporting to CMO Elisa Steele. She is replacing Allen Olivo who left Yahoo recently after serving as SVP of global brand marketing and her style is not very ‘Yahooesque’ in the traditional sense. What does that mean exactly?

…. unlike past Yahoo marketing execs, Baldwin has been described to me by many people at the company as much more colorful and bold in her style, and that she has been advocating more aggressive ideas about reinvigorating the Yahoo brand.

“Well, Penny is definitely not Yahoo,” said one Yahoo source, joking about the company’s quainter, yodel-focused and purple-toned image. “Which is probably a good thing.”

So we can expect some changes pretty quickly since the new Yahoo home page is slated for roll out in the fall time frame. There is plenty of work to be done to unify Yahoo’s image and put some shine back on a once high-flying brand that was a front runner and now is more of a reclamation project. As discussed in the past here, just trying to bring the many different Yahoo properties into a more cohesive social networking community is a substantial task from a logistical standpoint . As in many technology situations, it’s easy to outrun reality with marketing and hype so everyone would be better served to see how Yahoo works in reality rather than in the marketing hype that will likely trumpet it’s ‘new and cohesive’ community feel.

According to Swisher, one motto that is being thrown about is “your home on the web”. There are more apparently. Let’s hope so. If this is the new and dynamic road that Yahoo is embarking on then Ms. Baldwin certainly has her work cut out for her. I yawned halfway through that potential byline for the Yahoo brand. What else is out there, “This is not your father’s Yahoo!”?

Stay tuned. Yahoo is certainly at a critical juncture in its existence. There is so much potential that has been underutilized to this point, is there enough left in the tank to make Yahoo the Internet powerhouse it once was? How do you really view Yahoo? How do you use it? What services do you use in the Yahoo family? Do you even know what properties are owned by Yahoo?

Excuse me, however, I have to go check my Yahoo mail that I have had since forever. Maybe today I’ll look around some more and then again, since there is so much more on the Internet to pay attention to, maybe I won’t.