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Tamebay Comment: eBay’s new logo

By Dan Wilson September 14, 2012 - 2:08 am

I have never met an eBay seller, or indeed a buyer, who said: “I’d use eBay more if they would only change their logo.”

Logos do matter. Just not as much as CEOs, Marketing VPs and the legion of brand consultants they employ at great expense think they do. Devin Wenig, President of eBay, has heralded eBay’s new logo with understandable restraint: “This is the new eBay”.

Wenig says of the new logo: “It’s eBay today: a global online marketplace that offers a cleaner, more contemporary and consistent experience.” But eBay isn’t the logo. It’s the people. The buyers and sellers. eBay is an idea.

If you turn Wenig’s statement on its head, you learn a lot about what he thinks about eBay’s past. And, by extension, presumably what the new cadre of eBay execs must think about auctions, collectables and non-enterprise sellers: dirty, old-fashioned and inconsistent. Having been involved with eBay since 1999, I object to that caricature.

And anyway. None of that reflects on the old eBay logo. People have often told me things about eBay that need change or reform. There is always a tweak or reordering of fees to be considered. Selling policies could benefit from a sober review. Customer support provision deserves improvement. Basic facilities like My eBay and TurboLister need the 2012 treatment. Plenty of eBay merchants would appreciate lavish advertising campaigns.

And as much as eBay Inc. might baulk, auctions do work. Plenty of sellers make good money selling second hand goods and antiques. eBay remains a profitable avenue for mums selling baby goods and clothes, a boon to casual sellers and a place for pensioners to flog off a few desirable retro items. That BIN has become so popular is a delight. But it doesn’t mean the eBay of old is dead, Indeed, it shows there is space for Uncle Angus and Argos alike.

Never. NEVER. Have I ever heard anyone say: “we’d make more money if eBay changed the logo.” That goofy font. Those overlapping letters. The primary colours. It was never cool and never sexy. But it worked well enough. In fact, I’d say people loved it. Frankly, I love it.

A logo change, in any business, costs money. In eBay’s case it will likely cost many millions to ensure brand consistency. Everything with a logo on it will need to be changed: offices, websites, clothing, to name but a few instances. And anyone else using the eBay logo too, will need to adjust. I know at least one eBay Powerseller from Nebraska USA who will be regretting her tattoo.

But will this logo change make money? No. Of course not. Not in itself. It is perhaps a show of confidence from the eBay leadership and a vindication of the recent results that have pleased Wall Street.

So perhaps Wenig is right: “This is the new eBay.” An eBay Inc. that thinks it is in control. An eBay bigger than its community. An eBay that knows better than its sellers and buyers. And an eBay that is trying to be Amazon, but with limited success.

The logo changes but eBay stays the same. I try to imagine what Pierre Omidyar thinks. I wonder whether replacing the old logo isn’t a welcome act from a new emperor. Perhaps at least now we know eBay is naked to those who look hard enough.

  • 9 years ago

    Never. NEVER. Have I ever heard anyone say: “we’d make more money if eBay changed the logo.”

    The one bit of good news regarding this logo will be for 3rd party developers and affiliates. eBay currently prohibits third parties from using staggered multi-color logos. So if you already have a brand and it just happened to be multi-color and staggered it is impossible for you to become an eBay affiliate or developer without first changing your own brand. Now this rule makes no sense and I would expect it to be removed opening up new opportunities for a small number of companies.

  • 9 years ago

    Rather than showing confidence, I think the new ebay logo shows how much they have lost the plot.

    Let’s face it, it is just a pale copy of the google logo, so ebay clearly have no idea of who they are, let alone where they are going.

    As an ebay seller and buyer, this does nothing to make me think they have got a clue, never mind a plan!

    • paddy
      9 years ago

      Taking your google comparison further maybe they should have just went for, “EBAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY”. Now that would have stood out!

    • 9 years ago

      Haven’t they told you about the new numbering for search result pages yet? Apparently ebaaaaaaaaaaay was the number one choice to replace 1234567891011121314 😀

  • 9 years ago

    Good post and salient points.

    It has summed up my impressions of Ebay perfectly. 🙂

  • 9 years ago

    There is another point about a New Logo. On the 5th September Tamebay carried news of “Germany airs New TV Advert”. Of course a New Advert can be expected to have cost a great deal of effort, time and money and to have been authorised at a high level. Yet it was released only a few days before the announcement of a New Logo that made the advert in its present form obsolete.

    Perhaps its confirmation of what many of us suspected for years. That ebay internally is a chaotic mess. A typical example of Left Hands and Right Hands not having the foggiest idea of what is going on.

    If there is a Logo Change in the offing the sensible policy would be to hold ALL New TV adverts and other such items until the New Logo was announced and release the New Adverts on every media possible in as many differant languages as possible all with the new logo to the front.

    But ebay being ebay the new adverts are released with the old logo and have to be rejigged for the new logo and are not yet dubbed into other languages and probably will not be for months, if ever. Planning? well the less said the better. But at present the change of Logo is looking more like an idea an Under-employed Executive might come up with by scribbling on the back of the proverbial fag packet.

    • 9 years ago

      I imagine that a new ad could be developed with the new logo, but it’s a good example of the plethora of things that will need to be amended. And all that represents an expense.

      I recall some years ago that Andersen Consulting rebranded to Accenture (so a slightly different example) and that was rumoured to have cost then $100m.

  • Robert Mansell
    9 years ago

    Ebay = Want to be Amazon
    Ebay = Want to look like Google

    Ebay, play to your strengths and go back to being ebay. Stop chasing everyone else you seem to look desperate to me.

  • 9 years ago

    Why can they not just finish what they have started instead of messing around with new stuff? Product bundle anyone?

  • 9 years ago

    I also note that this will be rolled out in October: it’s difficult to envisage a worse time of year. I’d say that eBay should be concentrating on Christmas, not tarting up the logo about then.

  • rick
    9 years ago

    its got you talking and ebays logo is plastered all over the web free of charge on sites and blogs, for the cost of changing a few fonts,
    we bet tamebay would change logos once a week if it brought the same response

  • 9 years ago

    The final cost will be considerably more than “for the cost of changing a few fonts”. That is just the start of the cost of changing a logo. As the costs pile up my expectation is that the final cost worldwide will be in many millions of pounds. Possibly as many as 50 million pounds by the time all the costs are in.

    So will it at the end of the day increased sales by one iota? Will it have improved ebay’s public image? Will it have done anything to have prepared ebay for the future challenges? In fact will it have done anything constructive? I believe that the answer to these and many other similar questions will be a resounding “No”.

    In other words it has been a total and utter waste of time and money. The one possible benefit will be a lot of column inches around the World in such as Newspapers in articles announcing the change of logo. But over the years there have been many of these and today any such change of logo tends to be on an inside page, often about page 25, and just a short news item of perhaps a couple of column inches and a small photo which many readers will probably miss anyway.

    • rick
      9 years ago

      Your a multi billionaire with a top class CV in marketing and commerce , yachts, fast cars, property,?

      or a bookseller [PART TIME] in Cornwall????

    • 9 years ago

      “bookseller (PART TIME) in Cornwall” I have kept coming back to that description. It may very well be reasonably accurate but I am actually trying to retire. I am 62 years old with medical problems so I would really like to be able to say that I have sold the last of my books and I can get on with whatever remains of the rest of my life.

      However in the past I have been described as “arguementative”. that was in the days of northumbrian and then st georges dragon and now he is back as rick could I point out that the one trying very hard to stimulate an arguement is “rick” not me I was very happy just trying to suggest a reasonable estimate of costs which is something I often had to do professionally when I was employed as an Accountant in Industry

    • Peter King
      9 years ago

      If your estimate of costs was as accurate when you were a bookkeeper in industry then it explains why you’re now a “bookseller (PART TIME) in Cornwall”

    • 9 years ago

      I have had a varied CV. As far as I am aware “Peter King” does not have a copy neither has he seen a copy of my CV so he will not be surprised that I take little notice of his view of my career. However while I will admit that I have made mistakes in my career on the whole I have nothing to be ashamed of. Indeed the only reason why it is (Part Time) is my medical problems so again I hope that “Peter King” will accept my total contempt for his view of my career.

  • Bunchy
    9 years ago

    Nobody cares about the logo really. I’d much rather them spending the money on fixing known issues, training cs staff or reducing fees. New logo wasn’t needed, wasn’t wanted and won’t help buyers or sellers use the site.

    • rick
      9 years ago

      my point is I dont really care about the logo either,
      though I am not so far up my own arse I cant grasp that their bank balance is so much better than mine , I watch and learn

    • Bunchy
      9 years ago

      Charming !

    • rick
      9 years ago

      not charming just unpretentious, ebay makes so much money we dont presume to know better , we only hope we come close to making the same mistakes as they do,twice as bad

  • 9 years ago

    OK accepting that ebay’s Bank Account is many times more than mine. Years ago I had a friend who was considerably more knowledgeable than me. One of his favourite sayings was “You can always tell which company is going broke next year. They are the one that bought a New Rolls-Royce for their Chairman this year”.

    The basic meaning of which was a company that wastes money on trivia(a New Roller for its Chairman (twenty or thirty years ago – Changing a much loved iconic Logo for no sensible reason today) has to be suspect because it is obviously not under effective control.

    So will the changing of the logo bring down ebay. I doubt it. After all ebay has such a massive annual income that it can afford to throw away £50million without blinking but I suspect that it does confirm once again that all is not well in ebayland.

  • rick
    9 years ago

    why not make it 150 million , and a yacht ,your figures are just un informed guess work

    • 9 years ago

      “un informed guess work”. Anybody even “rick” should be able to come up with some costs involved with changing a Logo. Every piece of paper, every frontage of a building, every vehicle, every advert, every TV advert, every card, every computer programme etc etc etc where the old logo was used -Worldwide is now obsolete and will have to be replaced or modified to carry the new logo.

      I do not know, and neither I guess does “Rick” just how much that adds up to Worldwide. But I can estimate that it is an enormous number of changes. Some such as “every piece of paper” is very simple the old paper will go in the bin(possibly turned over and used as scrap paper-hopefully not for scribbling yet more crazy ideas) and orders will be placed with Printers for replacement paper with the new logo on it. Obviously ebay might decide to take the opportunity to revise all such pieces of paper or they could just simply order the replacement paper identical to the previous but with the new logo. Whatever they do it costs.

      In regard to buildings which have the old logo mounted on the front. They will have to order new logos for those buildings and then arrange for the old ones to be taken down and the new ones to be mounted in their places. Again it costs.

      But as I previously mentioned the New German TV Advert was produced with the old logo. So it will be necessary for this and all other TV adverts and indeed any other adverts that ebay intends to use after the operative date for the old logo to be changed to include the New Logo. Again each and every such change costs.

      In this regard ebay may very well have booked TV time for the New German Advert and indeed other existing TV adverts around the World. Now they will be contacting the TV companies to make certain that the ones to be broadcast are the New Logo version and not the Old Logo Version. After all they have to make certain that they do not have a mixture of old and new ones being broadcast. After the operative date the old one has to be completely replaced. Again this all takes time, effort and money.

      So “Rick” the costs are mounting. I estimated £50million. In an earlier post you estimated the costs as being “for the cost of changing a few fonts”. In other words negligible. I suspect that when the final costs Worldwide are known my £50 million will be considerably closer, even an underestimate, than yours.

    • 9 years ago

      You’re banging on about an awful lot of costs. eBay don’t have to change everything.

      The new logo is for “The eBay Brand”. It’s not for PayPal, Shopping.com, Gumtree, Kijiji, Stubhub, GSI, Magento or any of eBay’s other companies.

      eBay Inc, i.e. the holding company will (at least for the time being) retain the old logo.

      eBay (as in the marketplace) gets a new logo.

      Sure it’ll still cost a fair whack, but not as much as you’re inferring.

      Personally I think if they’re changing it they should have gone the whole hog and changed it for the group, not the eBay brand, but that’s what it appears they’ve chosen to do.

      I think two logo’s is just confusing though.

    • 9 years ago

      Even accepting the fact that ebay does not have to change everything changing a Logo is never cheap. I tried to think of a change that was truly cheap. A small Church Youth Football Team jumped to mind. It changes its shirts for the start of the New Football Season. So if it adopted a New Logo it could be combined with the New Shirt Purchase. So reasonably negligible. Except that there may be a redesign cost before the new shirts can be produced. But they also have a Minibus that takes the team to away matches and that has the old logo on it so that will need to be changed. As will the banner that the Official Supporters Club uses. It might be “negligible” but it all costs.

      If you go back to 1948 The Big Four Railway Companies had been Nationalised. So Great Western Railway was to be replaced by British Railways on everything(on the GWR). But in those days they did not treat it as a matter of pride to replace everything on the operative date. Even as late as well into the 1950’s you could still see locomotives that had not been repainted still in the GWR Livery.

      So in 1948 the costs were generally negligible because the change of Owner was done at the same time as routine periodic repainting.

      Today we occassionally see a Haulier or Bus Company being taken over. Within hours the buses or trucks may not have been repainted but sticky vinyl sheets carrying the New Owners Name will be being stuck over the top of the previous ownership details.

      Going back to my estimate of £50 million. From my experience CEO’s and Director’s are generally not fools. When they ask for a formal estimate from an Accountant they have a figure in mind. As I said elsewhere the Accountants Report will be “Company Confidential” but if it was say £30 million or indeed £70 million I would not feel that I had made a mistake. After all he had the full facts and information and all I had was very incomplete knowledge. But what I do know is that changing a logo is never cheap and I would not be surprised at whatever figure the ebay Accountant came up with in his report.

    • Peter King
      9 years ago

      Amazing, you’ve steered the conversation back to steam trains again.

    • 9 years ago

      Much I as I like the view of an old 4-2-4 chugging through the countryside I think we’ve had enough of Steam trains on Tamebay.

      In future any comments containing comparisons to trains, steam engines and the like will be shunted off into a siding where they can’t be seen.

    • 9 years ago

      My intention was to show the differant attitude to changing Company Names or Logos years ago compared with today. Today a Change of Company Name or Logo on the 1st of the Month means that the old name or logo has been completely replaced by the 2nd. Years ago it was a much more gradual change over. Even years after the change you could still find the old name and/or logo still in use and nobody batted an eyelid at it.

      Obviously the attitude that everything has to change on the operative date increases the costs. The 1948 way of doing things meant that normal routine repaints and maintenance would see the change of company name and/or logo which of course meant that the costs were not overly increased.

      I just used Steam Locomotives because they were a typical example of the way that it used to be done.

    • rick
      9 years ago

      I dont need to come up with ebays costs, they seem to be manage quite well with out my help,
      and to you sir rather than the negative! try looking for positives you may be less annoying

    • 9 years ago

      Some such as “every piece of paper” is very simple the old paper will go in the bin

      Or they could just put it up on eBay and sell it as a collectible.

    • 9 years ago

      I seem to be attracting a lot of critisism for having dared to put a price on the change of logo. I would expect that somebody somewehere within the ebay empire will also have done this. Long before the new logo was announced an Accountant would have been asked to come up with an estimate for the cost of changing the logo worldwide.

      Obviously this information will be “Company Confidential” but I find myself wondering just how accurate my £50 million is to his estimate. My guess is that my £50 million is not far out. The Accountant will also have been asked to cost the benefits of changing the logo. No doubt he will have come up with a similarly high valuation. But in addition there will be other benefits that may not be as easily valued.

      The CEO or Board of Directors or whoever made the final decision will have looked at the figures and obviously decided to go ahead.

      My guess is that had that Accountant come up with a cost of “for the cost of changing a few fonts” then two things would have happened. The first is that any Professional Respect that that Accountant had had within ebay would have immediately disappeared and secondly he would have been shown the door – Why Because in my experience Boards of Directors want the full facts not stupidity in the figures presented to them. Also of course they have to be able to accept future figures presented by the same source and if this set of figures is uneducated drivel then they will be unable to accept any future ones. My £50 million was at least an attempt to come up with a figure based upon incomplete figures so can be expected to be an educated guess rather than “ricks”.

  • 9 years ago

    I think the new logo works well and is a step in the right direction . . .

  • Gary
    9 years ago

    Let us not forget that it is our seller fees that pay for this.

    Makes me think ebay have got more money than they know what to do with. How about giving some of it back to sellers?

  • JD
    9 years ago

    Chris is right.

    What didn’t much matter in 1948 doesn’t much matter now.

    I’m off to the shed.

  • 9 years ago

    There is a feeling that changes of Logo or indeed Company Name rejuvinate a Company and boost its position in the market. I find myself wondering if this is always true.

    When I was growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s probably the largest part of the British Car Market was held by the Austin and Morris Car Companies. Firstly individually and then after 1952 combined as the British Motor Corporation. If we take such BMC just about every town in the Country and many Villages had an Austin or a Morris or in many cases an Austin and a Morris Dealer. My Mother had an Austin A30 and my Father had an MG Magnette both made by BMC at the time.

    Austin and Morris as BMC then went through British Motor Holdings(1966); merged with Leyland to form British Leyland(1968) then Austin Rover(1983), Rover Group Plc(1986) for a while owned by British Aerospace eventually the remains were sold to BMW and finally sold to a group of entreneurs and collapse.

    Numerous changes of name and logo and instead of rejuvinating the business it actually meant a drift towards final oblivion. While such as the Austin A30 and Morris Minor were much respected cars in their day some of the later cars(Allegro as an example) were much maligned(I used to occassionally see a British Leyland Staff Newspaper. I remember an article about a bloke at Longbridge who had won a cash award for suggesting that the Allegro should be built of thinner metal. THINNER METAL!!! the thing used to flex all over the place because the metal was far too thin in the first place).

    Changing Company Names and Logos is not a sure way of boosting a company. When did you last see a New Austin or Morris(when did you last see an Austin or Morris car on the road-except for much loved restored versions?)

    • Peter King
      9 years ago

      You do realise its 2012 don’t you ? and that this is a ecommerce blog ?

    • 9 years ago

      HAHA

  • 9 years ago

    The basic rules are still the same. Somebody said “Those that forget their history are doomed to repeat it”. So mistakes from the past are often still relavent. In the case of Companies Changing Names and Logos it is likely that the same errors have been repeated since Company Names and Logos were invented and will probably continue to be repeated until the human race is finally extinct.

  • Stephen Walder
    9 years ago

    If you take a look at the new site in the US then you’ll clearly see why they want to revamp their logo. It’s clearly not in keeping with the more refined image they now trying desperately to portray. They’re moving in the right direction and clearly using our fees to do just that.

    I can’t understand why this isn’t accepted by many TameBay readers? Clearly there’s lots to do and it would appear that they’re progress is seemingly gathering pace . . .

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