Indeed, with those four familiar colored squares – set in a bigger square rather than standing on a point in a diamond – Microsoft’s new corporate logo seems almost inevitable. As you’d expect, the company’s name makes up part of the logo, but instead of the thick italic letters it has used for the past two and a half decades, it’s in a more standard, lighter font.
Jeff Hansen, Microsoft’s general manager of brand strategy, notes that the point of the new logo is to “signal the heritage but also signal the future – a newness and a freshness.” It’s very fitting when you consider just how many of the software firm’s signature products the company either has launched or will launch in the coming months, from its iconic operating system to its ubiquitous Office suite.
Indeed, the new logo and the new product designs share a certain look and feel. They both feel cleaner and less cluttered; both even feature colorful tile-based designs. The Windows-like square isn’t the only familiar feature in the new logo; the company’s name is written in the Segoe font, which Microsoft owns and has used for several years. Appropriately, the new Windows 8 operating system makes extensive use of the Segoe font.
The new corporate logo follows some of the most important rules of logo design. It’s easily recognizable, even from a distance. It recognizes the value of trademarks with its nod to Windows, perhaps the company’s best-known product. It blends graphics, text, and colors well. It even gives a nod to continuity by connecting the “f” and the “t” in the name “Microsoft,” just as they were in the old logo. Hansen explained that “it was one of the subtleties we thought we could bring forward.”
Like all good corporate logos, Microsoft’s new logo contains deeper levels of meaning. In addition to the continuity represented in the name mentioned above, the colored squares stand for more than a gentle reminder of the Windows operating system. The different colors – blue, orange, green, yellow – represent “the diversity of our products and the diversity of people that we serve,” according to Hansen.
Scroll to the bottom of Microsoft’s home page and you’ll see a list of the company’s products with their own logos and colors – one color per logo, aside from white, all using shades from the new logo. Windows and Skype use blue; Office and Windows Phone use orange; Xbox uses green; and Bing uses yellow.
As of this writing, you can still find the old logo (or something resembling it) in a few spots, but all in all, Microsoft is to be complimented for the change. Many of the older logos – including the one the company used for 25 years – feel not only dated, but rather like the logo you’d expect to see from a company trying to take over the world. They were heavy, over-wrought, and full of their own importance. The new logo seems more like the neighbor who’d chat with you across the fence and give you a little help with your new garden if you ask. It’s the logo not of a mad scientist, but of a quiet, friendly tinkerer interested only in getting some work done. With so many new and updated products coming out, Microsoft no doubt hopes it will help win over many new customers.
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