The Challenges of Ask Jeeves
In light of recent changes in the Ask search franchise, we thought it would be interesting to revisit our work that tuned up the Jeeves character and resulted in the Ask logo. Originally, this search company's identity included the butler, Jeeves. Jeeves' mission was to represent the best question-answering/search service on the Internet, just as Fed Ex stands for reliable overnight delivery.
Jeeves isn't just a name, like Yahoo or Amazon, but a character who personified the promises of the brand: real answers, simplicity and service. These attributes were at the heart of Ask Jeeves and were a unique and "ownable" branding opportunity. Simply ask a question in plain English—Ask Jeeves would give you an organized, finite range of answers that you could easily review. Ask Jeeves was easy, intuitive and fast.
These were the fundamental aspects of Ask Jeeves that we focused on in tuning up the brand identity. BGDI explored the design possibilities of the character and logotype in depth to create a mark that powerfully projects the brand attributes and personality of the Ask Jeeves brand.
The Ask Jeeves Identity
One of the keys to successfully launching and building a brand is a visual identity system that clearly projects the brand. Visual components that work together in a variety of environments and media must trigger strong, consistent associations with the brand.
We saw the need to extract a component in the identity that could represent the core of the brand. Working with the Ask Jeeves brand, it became apparent that the name and the action part of the name—"Ask"—could be used as a valuable brand-building component. This became the red "Ask" button. It was used throughout the site as a kind of sub-brand to give the brand identity a powerful interactive component. The "Ask" button also reinforced the URL for the Ask Jeeves site: www.ask.com. Ask Jeeves, Inc. also sold its question-answering technology to companies for use within their sites, and the "Ask" button as a sub-brand was extendible to those efforts without the Jeeves character.
Thus, there are three key elements that helped build the Ask Jeeves brand: the Jeeves character, the red "Ask" button and the "Ask Jeeves" logotype. These options provided the flexibility needed to project the brand through various media, but within a consistent system that guarded the brand's values.
The loss of Jeeves as a spokesperson for the brand is regrettable—it brought personality and a sense of service to the brand—but the essence of asking questions and getting the right answers is preserved in the "Ask" button. It has become the brand as a whole, and has retained its interactive nature: every time someone searches, they click the "Ask" button to get search results.
— Steven Donaldson, President, BGDI