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Orange Is Not the New Blue

SAP CEO Bill McDermott Source: DPA, Handelsblatt Montage
The blues win. SAP chief executive Bill McDermott has stepped back from the orange logo he briefly introduced.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    • Firms introducing new logos need clarity and consensus about what they are trying to communicate, otherwise, the logos can fail.
  • Facts


    • SAP is Europe’s biggest provider of software and the fourth-largest in the world.
    • SAP had revenues of €16.81 billion, or $20.8 billion, in 2013.
    • The firm’s logo remains blue, following a brief flirtation with a new orange square-shaped logo which was intended to accompany SAP’s new motto “Run Simple.”
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A small orange square with the letters SAP written in white briefly became the new logo for the German software firm.

It was introduced to replace the pale sky-blue logo with white letters and the cutaway corner. But the exit of the bright orange square was as quiet and unspectacular as its introduction.

Therein lay the problem.

Bill McDermott, SAP’s talkative chief executive, wanted a new logo for the firm now that it has a new motto, “Run Simple.”

The logo was intended to represent the firm’s modernity.

Without a big launch, the logo appeared in different publicity materials here and there, and didn’t seem to attract much attention from customers and partners.

But it seems Mr. McDermott failed to gather enough support for the new logo within the company. Managers at the firm criticized it as unnecessary, conservative and altogether yesterday.

“It’s fine to want a logo to help people experience a company’s new identity,” said Christopher Wünsche, a brand expert at Truffle Bay Management Consulting in Munich. “But then you need to clarify externally and internally what it is you want to communicate.”

Mr. McDermott finally switched back to the blue logo, ending the short career of the orange square, not with a bang but a whimper.

024 SAP-CEO-Bill-McDermott


Jens Koenen leads Handelsblatt’s coverage of the aviation and IT industry and is bureau chief of the Frankfurt office. To contact the author:

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