AOL attempts comeback as content-provider with a fresh brand identity
LONDON - AOL is preparing for life without Time Warner by unveiling a fresh brand identity, which it claims will help it stand apart from its rivals as an independent content-driven company.
AOL completed its takeover of Time Warner for $164bn (£84bn) in January 2001, in what at the time was hailed as the 'deal of the century'. However, it is now being spun off from Time Warner, with the process due for completion on 9 December.
Nine years on, AOL has lost its way as rivals including Microsoft, Yahoo! and Google have continued to evolve their search and content offerings.
Developments such as this year's UK launch of AOL Music's US music site, Spinner, have been viewed as too little, too late, as rivals such as MySpace have made the online music space their own.
AOL is again trying to make it without Time Warner. It has launched a fresh brand identity, which it claims is in line with its new-found independence and vision of becoming a hub for 'simple and stimulating content and online experiences'. The brand identity was developed by Wolff Olins.
AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong, a former Google executive who took up his role in April, is trying to make the company a top purveyor of news, entertainment and other digital content.
He has brought in Bebo's former European managing director, Kate Burns, has head of European sales to bolster the commercial team; she has promoted David Shing to European marketing director. Christian Peck, meanwhile, has joined the company from Microsoft as vice-president of European advertising products and operations.
However, AOL is simultaneously going through a global restructure that will lead to 2500 redundancies, leaving around 4,000 employees.
Internet analysts have taken AOL's new branding as a sign of its current identity crisis. It will have to quickly restructure if it is to hit the ground running next month and prove its critics wrong.
This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.uk
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