Pankhurst on dotcom life: Our logo's getting a facelift, but my folks are going nowhere

The big news this month is we've decided to make some changes to the Friends Reunited brand. Not a name change, but a revamp of our logo, which we haven't touched since launch, to give it a global feel. Contrary to what you may have heard, we haven't decided to entirely do away with the pictures of my mother and father in their shades who appear proudly on the original site logo. Rumours of their departure from the UK site have been greatly exaggerated.

I've remarked before about how the original logo was put together in a rush when we started the site, but it has held up well, even as we've grown in scale and added a variety of new services from genealogy to dating. In fact, the 'crapness' of the logo added to the charm of the original site. We were keen not to alienate new users by being too slick or corporate with the brand.

Now we are well on the way to establishing a global brand, boosted by the purchase of Schoolfriends, an Australian firm. We have a presence in the UK, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. So, what we've done to the logo is to add a map of the world to the background so that it makes sense in a wider, global context.

Also, one of my favourite parts of the site, our genealogy service, has been renamed. It is now Genes Reunited. It is a deceptively complicated situation. When we launched the service, there were so many spoof 'Reunited' sites starting up, with no connection to us, that we reckoned a Genes Reunited site might get mistaken for a service that helps you find lost trousers or some such nonsense.

All this just goes to show how good a name Friends Reunited is. It doesn't imply that everything we do involves a school reunion and it gave us scope to launch our ancestry service, dating, and to get people to use us and make new friends. I did think it might be hard for people to remember and type into a browser, but we got so popular, so fast, that we didn't get time to change it. We did the opposite of what many big brands do - we didn't have thousands to throw at a branding consultancy - and in many ways that is a very good thing. For one, the service is to be used by people like us - people who want to get something out of technology, but don't want it too fancy to use.

So, things change, but it is a bit premature to say that we have lost our old logo. After all, how would I let my parents know they've been dropped?

Steve Pankhurst is the co-founder of Friends Reunited.


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