I like AOL's new logo design a lot. It's sort of similar to Nokia's OVI branding (which I like as well), but reversed - you can see "through" OVI's logo to different backgrounds, whereas AOL's plain white logo sits on top of different backgrounds (or punches a hole through it, depending on how you look at it). It's definitely a cool new logo treatment for the modern age which gets away from the basic Paul Rand style logos which were made to look good in black and white in the yellow pages.
But what I don't understand is the "Aol." typography, if you want to call it that. AOL is an acronym for America Online, yet the new type has "A" capitalized and the "ol" in lowercase like "Aol" is a pronounceable word. But it's not. No one says "AY-ohl" to my knowledge. What's even more confusing is the period at the end... like "Aol." is short for a longer word, like "prof." is short for "professor". But, again, it's not an abbreviation for a single word - it's an acronym.
Basically, it just doesn't make sense. Not that it has to, but you know, it just seems dumb to me. It feels like a designer just threw together a bunch of ways of writing the letters A O and L on some mockups, and then a committee (or a harried new CEO) who didn't think about it picked one they liked best and they went with it.
Here's my best guess at the reasoning behind the logo - ready for it? Someone really liked a dot at the end of the logo, which - like the exclamation point at the end of Yahoo! - gave the word mark a sense of being it's own sentence. AOL-period. As in, "AOL has everything you need, no need to go anywhere else. Done." But, the problem is that "aol." and "AOL." don't give that same connotation, do they? You'd be looking for the missing "com" at the end of those words. So the only way to make it work is by making AOL seem like a word: "Aol.", which visually seems to convey that message, despite being grammatically dubious.
Personally, I think that AOL should have just rebranded all together. Despite the name recognition, the AOL brand has been badly damaged over the past couple decades and won't ever recover. They own *so* many good domains, they could have easily chosen a new and interesting one to relaunch themselves under any of them: love.com, seed.com, aim.com, sphere.com, wow.com and when.com to name a few. Any would have been a better choice than trying to refresh the aging AOL brand, IMHO.
Regardless, like I said, I like the new design treatment a lot, if not the actual letters in the logo. It's something that only an established big company could get away with, I think, but I bet it starts a new logo trend.
By the way, I like the "blue monster" version best. He's cute. :-)