Weekly Re-Brand #4: Microsoft

Welcome to the Blade Weekly Re-Brand, a place for us to take a quick look at some of the rebranding going on in the world and give a quick impression of what went right and what went wrong.

This week, we take a look at Microsoft‘s recent re-branding effort, which with the release of Windows 8 and Surface Tablets, is finally starting to make a real appearance in the marketplace.

The old Microsoft logo (left) vs. the new Microsoft logo (right).
The old Microsoft logo (left) vs. the new Microsoft logo (right).

What was wrong with the old Microsoft?
Microsoft has always had a bit of an image problem. Although their customer base has been fairly loyal over the years, much of that can be attributed to an overarching feeling of a lack of choice – “If I go with Apple, I can’t run the programs I need. If I go with Linux, I won’t have any support when something goes wrong.” A re-invigorated Apple has spent the last fifteen years pushing itself as a better choice, and in the last five years leapfrogged Microsoft in both the smartphone and tablet computing spheres, while also making significant inroads into the Desktop PC market. Microsoft needs to re-establish themselves as both an innovator and THE choice when it comes to new tech. The gradients and decidedly 90’s look of Microsoft’s old logo was standing in the way.

The new Microsoft website
The new Microsoft website.

Does the new version fix the problem?
The new look simplifies the old Windows symbol to a perfect square, while keeping the four colours. The new font is a sans-serif that is highly reminiscent of Apple’s own modern typography, but it keeps the “ft” ligature of the classic of the Microsoft logo intact – a nice touch. The new logo will certainly look more in line with today’s tech, and the new Windows symbol now matches up nicely with the new Windows 8 touch interface. It’s certainly a much cleaner look than one expects from Microsoft.

What new problems have been introduced?
Frankly, the logo looks too much like Apple, but without the charm. The distinctiveness of the wordmark has been lost, and is now just too close to Apple’s. Additionally, on many devices, you’ll see the four colours of the Windows symbol dropped in favour of all one colour, so that they don’t clash with the look of the hardware. This is something Apple struggled with in 1997. Going from their traditional rainbow Apple to a gradient shade, to a single solid colour. It will be interesting to see how this plays out long term. Additionally, Microsoft continues to associate their company with one of their many products; Windows. Whether this strategy will continue to work remains to be seen.

Is it an overall improvement?
A change was definitely needed, and Microsoft no longer looks dated (a killing blow for a tech company). Whether the look will last long-term or not remains to be seen, but with all the new devices sporting the look, it will certainly be here until the next major release of Windows. Personally, I think the way they’ve handled the integration of the logo into the hardware looks pretty cool, which is something I’ve never said about anything Microsoft (outside of the Xbox). I’d say it’s an improvement if they can continue to refine the look to move further away from Apple.

Do you think the new Microsoft is an improvement?

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Blade Studio

Featuring news and opinions on the latest rebrands, logos, ads and more from the designers in the Blade Studio.

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