Careful what you click for

I don't consider myself a crotchety old man (well... maybe a tad bit, but whatevs). Am I the only one that gets really tripped up when companies go and significantly change their avatar or icons after years and years with one we have all become familiar with? I never thought of myself as a "visual keyer" but I really noticed it when Microsoft changed their Outlook 2013 icon from a yellow/orange-themed O-clock-design to a blue envelope-thing with a flying 5 1/4" floppy that looks more like a Word icon than Outlook.

Here's the deal. I'm sitting at my PC. I want to use Outlook. I have Outlook open, I glance down to my task bar, I see the yellow/orange blur, I click on it and voila! TweetDeck opens up. I swear it has taken 6 months for my memory muscle to forget orange and look for a blue envelope-thingy. That is one reason I haven't changed my Twitter or FB avatar in a very long time. When we are on our iPad, iPhone or in a hurry on our PC, I think most of us key on a color and a rough pattern.

Words with Friends just did a similar thing in November. When I am flipping through pages and pages of app icons, I fly right by it now. I still sometimes open Tumblr when I really wanted Facebook (Look at the two logos. See what I mean?)

Corporations spend millions of dollars to make their speck of a logo trigger a recognition response from a mile away when the eye really can't make out enough detail. The brain just keys on the color and pattern.

While writing this post today, I wanted to use Yelp as an example. Yelp has a distinctive avatar on my iPhone. But, for the life of me, I couldn't remember the word "Yelp".  I had drawn a blank on the name. I could recall the red background, the black letters and that asterisk-looking thing beside it (hmmmm, maybe that is why I like Yelp), but I just couldn't think of the name. (Some even call this malady Deficient Noun Disease.) It happens to me all the time. So, I opened my iPhone, flipped to the second screen and there it was in all of its red splendor. That familiar logo waiting for me to tickle it with the tip of my index finger. Tap! Launch! It is almost a reflex opening our favorite apps. Isn't that what it is all about? Mission Accomplished. You've done a great job, Brownie!

Several prominent programs have pulled this on me recently, thus my rant. Do they think they are clever? Is blue the new red? What if McDonalds suddenly decided to make their logo a blue capital M? How would that work out? I bet their sales would drop even though they are not an online company. If Vine moved from green to yellow, they would likely lose 20% overnight. Am I right? What do you think?

So, folks, don't casually change things in the digital world unless you want to lose a bunch of us. The corollary is, think about what you are doing before you commit to a graphic image of yourself. It becomes permanent pretty quickly.


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