Rating the latest branding moves of Web giants Amazon, Microsoft, and Disney.

In the real world, butterflies, smiles, and forward-facing arrows convey optimism, but several online titans are betting that these icons can become synonymous with the dollar sign in the digital world.

During the past month, Amazon and Microsoft's MSN have unveiled new logos that incorporate these shiny, happy symbols, clearly aimed at mainstreaming their brand. In January, Disney's Go.com started the re-branding parade, albeit with a litigious push from the similarly marketed GoTo.com, which beat Go.com to the "green light" idea and has proved so in court—at least temporarily.

How do these new logos stack up, aesthetically and otherwise? Let's take a look:

Old logo

New logo

Déjà vu?

What's the point?


The butterfly that hovers to the side of the "n" wears a similar spectral color pattern to NBC's peacock. Does this foreshadow the content company merger that Bill's been denying?

Microsoft's Brad Chase on the company's press Web site: "The MSN butterfly icon and cleaner, simpler font that accompanies it are meant to capture the imagination and freedom that people should feel from using MSN."

Down: The old logo's oblong backdrop and sparse design could have worked for a punk-rock record label. Now there's a touchy-feely butterfly, and its wings don't even flap.

Wal-Mart wannabe! Amazon already plucked half its executive ranks from the House That Sam Built. Now it's co-opting the smiley-face mascot from Wal-Mart's advertising.

From Amazon's press release: Depicts "the ultimate expression of customer satisfaction: A Smile."

Down: The old logo's solid line was authoritative; the new "smile" grows in an upward arc as the home page downloads, suggesting a certain masculine function not usually equated with shopping.

It's so nondescript that it can't possibly be ripping off anyone else's logo, your honor.

After telling a judge that a mandated logo change could cost $40 million, Disney was still slapped with a temporary injunction in January. GoTo seeks millions in damages, not to mention a ban on coming near the street-light design concept again.

Up: In these image-conscious times, it's kinda nice when a multinational corporation settles for a design that even a fifth-grader could've conceived.

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