Why AOL should rebrand

aol_logo_v3.gif While good for the corporation that’s looking to sell shares and obviously bettering themselves in the eyes of shareholders and investors, high valuation is pretty important. But let’s be honest. The numbers are speculation based on revenue and such which is why companies can hit really high highs, but also really low lows, without actually changing too much in day-to-day operations.
From the technical field, AOL has been reigning king since the forum days of the late 80s into the early 90s where Compuserve and GEnie existed. In that sense, AOL’s brand was superior seeing that it put into place one of the largest online services in the world and by 2003 had bought out Compuserve. But from those that were more technologically savvy, the brand itself took a turn when it started to market with it’s free “X” hours for dialup service. Floppies, CDs, DVDs, you name it. The more it turned out to mass market the “dumbed down” version of online services, the more the brand went south with those that were involved in the tech industry.
In the end, even with the buyout of Weblogs, Inc. and gaining some of the more prevalent web news services such as Engadget, being associated with the brand of AOL just doesn’t quite do it anymore. The juggernaut of the 90s just doesn’t have it’s namesake anymore. Now it’s associated with the more simple user, those that are into the entire point-and-click scenario of the Internet. In fact, there isn’t one single techie I know that would actually recommend a person being tied to AOL service unless they happen to work there.
Maybe it’s just me, but that’s grounds for rebranding. When the namesake has been pushed into an area that there is no way out of it, and it’s been associated with a more “layman’s” brand? It’s time to change. There’s a good reason why Apple has a great brand. It takes a more complex type of subject and makes it intuitive and useful for a beginner without sacrificing the complexity of the software or devices. That “sacrifice of complexity” is what holds those two brands worlds apart.
Currently, AOL is probably going to be sold off either in pieces or altogether with a valuation of approximately $7 billion USD. If the divisions bought out by stronger brands, I would assume that the stronger brands would pitch out the old name and use their names instead on the letterhead.
Maybe it’s just me, but since the 90s, I haven’t seen AOL as a strong brand for a geek. Maybe for that layperson, but with the times, it might be time to take on a new name and shed some of the old baggage.