When any multi-national organization announces an attempt to refresh their image, perhaps a tweaking of their company logo or an adjustment in the hue of their corporate palate, it’s normally met with derision from the general public.
How much is all this costing? What was wrong with the old identity? Does anyone care?
History is littered with costly rebranding mistakes. From British Airways bid to remove the British flag from their aircraft’s livery to Gap’s short lived attempt to think outside of the box, the costs of rebranding have often exceeded replacing the office stationary and in some cases have caused long term damage to the brands.
But in eBay’s case, I believe the redesign is fully justified.
eBay has lived with their quirky, jumbled up, colorful, old logo for the past 17-years. It has represented the brand well and has become one of the most recognized and loved corporate identifiers globally. The logo told you that eBay was fun and cheap and a little bit all over the place. It also helped cement eBay’s appeal as a company built on a strong set of ideals and a community spirit (where anyone could trade).
The fact that many of eBay’s customers feel so connected to the company makes it a very difficult proposition to rebrand. Some commentators have even suggested that eBay’s President, Devin Wenig, has shown a degree of disrespect to the people who built the eBay community (the original eBay auction buyers and sellers) by announcing alongside the new logo: “This is the new eBay”.
In recent years eBay has changed. But it has also stayed the same.
It still offers a profitable venue for individuals to list second hand and collectable items for sale either at auction or at a fixed price. It still offers businesses of all sizes the opportunity to sell end-of-line or distressed inventory that would otherwise be left sitting on warehouse shelves. And yes, it is increasingly becoming a channel of choice for big name retailers to list and sell brand new, full price items.
It is perhaps this third group of sellers that eBay is trying to appeal to the most with their new, clean, corporate logo. To these sellers, eBay’s branding and positioning are incredibly important. While it might seem crazy to discount the idea of selling on such a high-traffic site as eBay because of their cheap and cheerful image, you have to remember that many big brand retailers see ecommerce with the same blinkered vision as they view the high street where image and positioning are still number one priorities. If eBay want to attract big name retailers, it is eBay who has to show willing to change.
But I believe the benefits of big name sellers joining the ranks on eBay will be felt throughout the community as they attract more buyers to the site (who perhaps would never have thought of eBay in the past).
I’m not saying that this will make life easier for all sellers on eBay, some of who will see the arrival of more big brands on the site as a massive threat. But others will see the opportunity, perhaps diversify their range and offers (perhaps even improving their own brand identity) and continue to make a significant impact via eBay. I believe agility is the most significant factor in finding success online venture and this is one area where small sellers can wipe the floor with the big guys.
eBay’s new logo symbolizes their new position in the ecommerce environment. We should no longer think of eBay as a flea market on the Old Kent Road. Nor should we think of it as a department store on Oxford Street. It’s somewhere in the middle, where big brands and local traders compete and thrive right next to each other. Perhaps it is closer to the high street shopping experience many of us wish we still had.