Why did Microsoft unveil a new logo?

Microsoft new logo design

Microsoft unveiled a brand-new company logo last Thursday and I wonder why. Rather than the familiar banner of colored squares, the new logo is a static colored square composed of four evenly sized squares and a common typeface, slightly tweaked.

While some like the new logo’s simple, square design, others say it’s too boring. I say, comments like that are short on content. To me a logo design is a strategic issue. Every company needs to make sure everything it owns is an asset, including its logo design. Yes, even its logo. And yes, it is possible – albeit rarely accomplished.

An updated logo design should be progressive.

Microsoft’s logo design has now gone from moderately distinctive to completely generic. Is this progress?

Logo designers constantly struggle to create a design that is both simple and distinctive. Too much of one often means not enough of the other. In Microsoft’s case, while the new logo is definitely simple, it fails the distinctiveness test. It needs to be unusual enough to persist in the mind. The four squares and the new font are inert. They just sit there. It has no motion, no energy — it’s not dynamic in any way. It is quiet, passive and weak. Look at the old and the new side by side:

old logo compared to new

Although the new company logo has the “four panes” that are common in the Microsoft Windows logos, they are static and “square,” (as in, “not cool”). It’s not progressive. It’s not dynamic. It’s the opposite of innovative and it’s less friendly. And while the old Windows logo is not great, it is a better design because it is distinctive. And it’s just as simple as the new one, but it isn’t generic. It’s memorable.

Jeffrey Meisner, general manager of brand strategy, said, “The new logo is inspired by the company’s brand values, fonts and colors.”

The symbol is important in a world of digital motion … the symbol’s squares of color are intended to express the company’s diverse portfolio of products.”

The revision, Meisner said, precedes “one of the most significant waves of product launches in Microsoft’s history.”

Hmm…Let me highlight some key words from Mr. Meisner:

- “inspired by the company’s brand values”

- “a world of digital motion”

- “waves of product launches”

Now which logo design best expresses “motion” and “waves”?

And are Microsoft’s brand values “generic,” “plain,” “at rest,” “static,” “weak,” etc.?

Is the new logo appropriate?

Maybe the new logo does embody the “new” Microsoft, especially with how the company’s rivalry with Apple — the traditional “design leader” among tech companies — is perceived.

If Microsoft has abandoned any effort to be innovative, this logo is perfect.

It reminds me of the GAP logo redesign effort and Walmart’s new logo a couple of years ago. It too is generic, undistinctive and plain although the new font is much more refined.


In Walmart’s case they went from a bad logo to another bad logo (which should not have cost more than $59.95). Microsoft went from a not-so-bad logo to a bad logo. Why bad? Because these logos are not strategic assets. But they could have been.

Why do these huge companies select “boring” and “generic” to represent them? Is it that they are afraid to be special?

Related links:

When does redesigning a logo make sense?
The value of a well designed logo.
The significance of a logo redesign.

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2 Responses to “Why did Microsoft unveil a new logo?”

  1. Ariel Pasqualles says:

    Ho hum. Once again, the energy embodied in the original logo has been lost. C’est la vie. C’est domage.

  2. Pierre Michalik says:

    This looks like eBay’s new logo. It’s bland and boring. This is minimalistic but removes all the personality from the original. Aside from spacing there isn’t much exploration.

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