So the new Microsoft logo has been debuted with much fanfare – – and despite my being a sucker for these sorts of things, in this case my reaction was: I don’t know, just meh. Here it is (with earlier versions below):
Without a doubt it is clean, derives, kind of, from the last logo update 25 years ago (directly above), and uses the much-emulated but never duplicated Segoe font. So it’s not a bad logo, and with the marketing support of Microsoft it will shortly be burned into our collective brainpans to the extent that we’ll need to go to the Internet (or this blog) to remember what the last logo was that we lived with for a quarter century.
So what’s the issue?
1) doesn’t introduce any exciting new elements – – MS has adorned its products with swoopy, 3-D graphic companions for years (Windows and Office graphics below) – so the colored box concept isn’t particularly new. There is commonly a risk of alienating the core user base by abandoning tradition (see Gap, below) but that just shouldn’t be an issue here. In the current media/tech world, where things are constantly downloaded and updated, hanging on to the old is not a big deal for the most part (and in fact consistency can be seen as a sign of stagnation).
2) takes what looked dynamic and makes it static – speaking of plain-Jane squares/colors/type here. We’ve seen the box approach before – – notably Gap (instant regret – -has it already been 2 years?) and JCP. You can read the Gap design rationale here. IMHO, jury’s out on the whole box thing. There’s sort of a ‘we’re so elemental, we don’t need to resort to fancy stuff’ thing at work. Not many companies that aren’t bona fide organic or basic in their core concepts can make a leap to go there.
3) maybe most importantly, there doesn’t seem to be a strategic imperative here. Typically logo adjustments are of the ‘let’s put lipstick on this’ where a brand is failing, or it signals a step-change in the strategic direction of the company (new products, new segments, merger, whatever). Microsoft inhabits neither world – this is sort of in the muddy middle.
Already on the message boards there is the predictable punditry about pros and cons, but in the end, we’ll accept the new logo and get back to whining about the new Surface is taking so long to come out.