Microsoft is in a year of reinvention. The company is trying to shed an image of stuffiness, slowness, and “uncool” with innovative new products, aggressive marketing, and a significant movement with it’s core strategies. To punctuate these operational changes, Microsoft has released a new brand mark and visual Identity.
The new identity polarized the tech audience. Some hate it, others love it. Like anything coming out of Redmund lately, there seems to be little middle-ground for acceptance.
I think the new logo is excellent. For a brand that draws on 25 years of history in the technology space, Microsoft is very much ‘your father’s computer company’. I think the emergence of tablets as a power-technology and a muddying of the consumer electronics and consumer markets has left Microsoft scared and forced some changes. To survive, the must change their approach to new products and software.
Windows 8 looks to be an excellent move forward from a user experience standpoint and a shift to an iterate-quickly model that Google and Apple are seeing success with. XBox is a massive success in the gaming category. Windows Phone is still waiting for wider adoption by consumers, but it’s well received by the tech community and (based on first hand experience) is an excellent interface and contenter in the mobile space.
I think the new Microsoft brand is an excellent design solution. It embodies Microsoft’s history in the technology space, but is also very current in it’s palette and type. There is a very traditional structure featuring the windows icon on the left. The new interpretation of the “window” is modern, but still familiar. The Microsoft moniker, in medium grey, is set in Segoe–a clean, san-serif slotted to replace a tired Trebuchet as a screen-optimized font. The proportions are conservative and balanced. The palette is carried over from previous versions of the logo, but in the flat, graphic representation reflects the new interface in Windows 8, due for a public launch this fall.
It’s very easy to criticize Microsoft as being conservative or to note that the new branding is an evolution rather than a new approach entirely. This is a perfect move for Microsoft to plunge into 2013 with new products, new markets, and enthusiasm for a reinvention.