It wasn’t the logo that was the problem

It’s been a few days since Microsoft introduced its new logo, you know, that one with the squares. Since then, I’ve been asked a very simple question many times “what do you think about it?”

Just to get that part out of the way, I quote from the Brand New blog.

(Microsoft) have all introduced Metro to the larger masses the new logo does not come as a surprise. It falls perfectly in place with what we’ve been seeing. Leading to a general shrug of the shoulders when it comes to this logo. I described it as “Meh” on internet television. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this logo but there is also nothing absolutely exciting about it.

You can’t really hate it, because how can you hate four squares arranged in a square — if you hate on it, you have serious anger management issues. And you can’t really love it, because how can you love four squares arranged in a square — if you love it, you have seriously low standards. All these statements are to say that Microsoft did the right thing: they are sticking to their design strategy and they are not antagonizing anyone.

It wasn’t an issue with any of Microsoft’s previous individual brands – Windows, Office, XBOX. Each demanded a certain amount of presence and respect in its individual market segments on its own merits. But side-by-side, you could tell it was the result of many separate graphics departments, legal teams and marketing strategies smothering what should have been a unified vision.

The question that people should have been asking is “what do you think of Microsoft’s new consistency?” to which I would answer “hell yes”.

The folks at have composited an interesting graphic of most of Microsoft’s old-vs-new branding to show off what happens when you put in a little of effort in consistency.

At least now it looks like it was all designed by the same graphics department.

10 insightful thoughts

  1. As someone who appreciates good design, there’s nothing I love more than a company creating a cohesive set of logos for all their products. Which gets me thinking, what would a Surface logo look like?

    1. I wonder about the Surface logo as well. I mean, let’s assume that they want to continue with this cohesive branding strategy, it doesn’t really make sense to use the new Windows 8 logo (as they have in current Surface promotional materials) because Surface ≠ Windows 8/RT (device vs. operating system). Now, let us pretend that Microsoft may want to brand its Surface tablet/PC in the same way that Apple, HP, Samsung, etc. do, then it would make sense for Microsoft to use the new Microsoft logo as the Surface device logo. Or, will they create a new logo altogether for Surface? Thoughts?

      1. Well, if you look at the mockups on the official Surface website, the device carries the Windows logo, not the Microsoft logo. Maybe this is intentional because at the time when they were released, Microsoft hadn’t revealed the new logo.

        The Microsoft logo (four squares) would make the most sense; just like Lenovo, Samsung etc. put the company logo on their devices, Microsoft should do the same. The Windows logo won’t make that much sense, and you already made a good point why (device vs. operating system).

        There could be a seperate Surface logo. Again the Lenovo example: They have a logo representing their company (Lenovo) and the product (ThinkPad, for example).

  2. I like the consistency but was just wondering how it will look like on a black and white newsprint. Same logos but different brand names on the right.

    I liked the old Windows Phone logo enclosed in the box though…

  3. I agree, the unification of the logos is great from a design point of view. One thing that has annoyed me over the last few weeks however is SQL Server 2012.
    Firstly the SQL Server logo has unfortunately not had a redesign.
    Secondly, a fair bit of effort has gone in to align the SSMS UI with Visual Studio 2010… just in time for Visual Studio to get a shiny new interface. I’m sure someone at Microsoft must have seen that coming, I just hope they tried to do something about it instead of thinking that it doesn’t matter.

  4. as a scientist I am always intrigued by the design rules they may have used to make it appealing without the viewer noticing it. E.g. is there a magic proportionality between the gaps and the size of the squares, the size of the logo and the font etc.
    Long, you have analyzed other designs in more detail (e.g. the new Windows 8 logo with its perspective and the gaps). Here you just state that it’s squares making a square. Maybe there is simply not more here….

  5. Well now we know why they had to dramatically change the Windows logo for Windows 8…because all along they wanted to use the the ‘Windows logo’ (similar to the Microsoft Store one) for all of Microsoft.

  6. The only design inconsistency I don’t understand is the icons of the Windows Desktop. Sure, with Windows 8, everything’s about the new Windows Runtime environment (a.k.a. the Metro interface). But now that they have changed the Aero theme for the Desktop with RTM to this new flat, Metro-style inspired experience, they should have replaced the set of icons as well. I mean, is it really that complicated to create a set of rather simple Metro-style icons? For a company like Microsoft?

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