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Designer vs. Designer: Microsoft's new logo

August 31, 2012 by Kate Franzman

Microsoft's move to shed its logo of 25 years for a more modern company brand has been the target of much talk and passionate commentary among those with an eye for design.

So we asked our own graphic designers Dan and Melissa: Microsoft's new logo: Bold or blah?

Dan's take: Thumbs up, mostly.

What was your first impression?
It seemed a little boring to me right off the bat. When someone like Microsoft unveils a new brand, I expect to be wowed. It looks very similar to what they’d been using, just not so wavy. I knew it was Microsoft, so it was recognizable, but I felt it was a little bland. I will say, when I saw how they were implementing it, my impressions changed.

So do you like it, or not?
I do like it. Especially the way it’s being used across the entire brand. I especially like the design on their tablet interfaces. Simple and clean—the opposite of what you’d tend to think with Microsoft.

When I look at the logo by itself, it doesn’t resonate. But the way they use it for their branding is done really well. They're going in a new direction and I like it.

What's the difference between a logo and a brand?
A logo is the actual mark. The artwork itself. The branding is how it’s communicated, throughout every medium, to the public. How does it look, how does it feel all together, and what is it telling us?

What does this mean for Microsoft?
I don’t think the logo is great, but what they’re doing with it is impressive. All along, Microsoft hasn’t been known for their design, unlike Apple. I think they’re catching up, design-wise.

Especially in the digital world, logos are becoming more complicated. Microsoft went the opposite direction. White type on a solid color. Very simple and clean. I’m a fan of simple and clean.

Melissa's take: Thumbs way down.

What was your first impression?
It felt really flat. I liked that it was clean, but it has no dimension to it. The old logo was basically the same, but now there's no organic movement to it. And I thought the old version reproduced really well, especially on Twitter and as a smaller icon. You still got the geometric feeling from it. It’s lost its personality.

The way they kerned the "f" and the "t", feels like an afterthought. Like that function must've been built into the font, and they let it stay. They didn’t try to manipulate it very well. I’m sure it was intentional but I don’t know why.

Does that mean you don't like it?
It’s safe to say I’m not a fan. It relies too much on the four colors. Reproducing it, in situations where color is limited will make it feel even more flat. And I think it’s limiting when it’s carried out in the other elements of the brand. It leaves fewer options.

What advice would you give to Microsoft?
Go back down the road of a type treatment with some sort of movement and personality, but a more modern typeface. They did a good job in choosing something more modern, but it lacks dimension. And honestly, it looks a lot like Apple. Maybe that’s what they were trying to do.

What makes a successful logo?
To me, a good logo speaks to the brand, and speaks to what the company or product does-- but not in an overly literal way. It should have easy visual clues, but still be interesting enough to make you think a little bit. It needs to be sophisticated, and standout, but also remain simple. And it should have the ability to be reproduced in a variety of sizes and media.


1 Response to "Designer vs. Designer: Microsoft's new logo"

Christopher says:
The use of ligature between the F and T is a hold-over element from their previous word mark, but it does seem kerned a little awkwardly.

I do feel it's kind of flat and blasé, but I have to agree with Dan that the way they implement it throughout all their various offerings is really well done.

I think though, I was underwhelmed not so much because it was a bad design--I generally think it's "okay"--but because I recently saw this phenomenal project by designer Andrew Kim to reimagine Microsoft's branding:
SEP 02, 2012

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