Microsoft has updated its logo for the first time since 1987. Sure, Windows has endured seemingly countless logo changes and brand re-imaging over the years, but Microsoft itself hasn’t been quick to update its trademark.
Despite mixed reviews as to the new logo’s aesthetic qualities, there are some very good reasons behind any business’ decision to refresh an aging logo. For Microsoft, this general practice is no different. 25 years is a long time for any technology company to maintain a corporate symbol. What might be seen by some as a sign of dependence and consistency is seen by others as a symbol of age and a lack of change that is so important in the world of technology.
What are the motivations behind a company changing its logo? How can a change like this improve (if even subconsciously) the opinion of a business? Here are some thoughts:
Revived Brand Image
Microsoft has changed a lot in 25 years. Its design philosophy has evolved significantly during that time and the aging logo does little to represent this evolution. The look and feel of its primary products including Bing, Office, Windows, and Xbox reflect a style that includes clean, somewhat boxy parts. By incorporating this into the logo, it creates a unification between the brand and its products.
Microsoft has been getting stale lately. Not just its stock, but the public perception of the company as a whole. Apple, which has gone through quite a few logo changes over the years itself, has managed to continue to reinvent itself as new products and changes to its design standards come out.
Since 1987, Microsoft launched a variety of innovative projects including one of the world’s largest robotic software platforms, industry-leading office applications, a widely popular game console, search engine, and several major changes to the Windows operating environment. We’ve gone from the original release of Windows to Windows 8, a widely different user interface than what users were accustomed to before the dawn of the Internet. It’s only natural that the company would incorporate this evolution into its logo.
Microsoft is a very different company today.
Bland, Colorless Logos Are a Thing of the Past
It’s difficult to find a modern logo that doesn’t incorporate some color. Back when the early Microsoft logos were created, printers were black and white (unless you paid serious money for them) and many screens were still monochrome. Having color in your logo back then often meant having to restrict yourself to a handful of colors and blocky, pixelated images. Do you remember the Windows 95 logo? It was nothing impressive by today’s standards, but back then it was par for the course.
Why is This a Big Deal?
Microsoft is an established International brand with countless products in homes across the globe. In every press kit, receipt, email, letterhead, business card, product package, load screen, software update, and available surface you might find a Microsoft logo now has to be updated to meet the new trademark. It’s Microsoft’s identity on paper, and it’s changing.
This isn’t a cheap undertaking for any company, let alone one with tens of thousands of employees and billions of dollars worth of product set to hit the market within the next year. Microsoft’s timing couldn’t be better as its about to release the latest version of its flagship operating system, but that doesn’t make this transition easy.
Folks in the press, blogosphere, and professional world have a new logo to replace the existing ones being tagged to information and distributions regarding Microsoft and its properties. Even companies and charities that Microsoft sponsors will now have a new image with which to attribute Microsoft on its materials.
These changes won’t come overnight, but for anyone who frequently deals with Microsoft, it’ll be something to note.
For more information on Microsoft’s direction, please check out our ongoing series on Microsoft’s future and how its past is making a strong impact on its future.