Change is the most permanent thing in the world, and finally Microsoft has come to realize this. For the first time in 25 years, Microsoft has introduced a new logo for the company. One wonders why Microsoft felt a need for change after so many years and why just a new logo? For that we are hear to tell you that the logo is not the only change though it is the most visible; it indicates a lot more than that. Let’s take a look of what this change really means: a total revamp of Microsoft business or the old approach with a new face? Also, is the Software giant the first company to introduce a new outlook or has followed its competitors to compete well in the industry?
The ‘New’ Approach
Microsoft is known as the leader in the technology world for its software business. The company reigned supreme for two decades with its simple yet innovative approach in the industry. Now as the company is facing tough competition from the likes of Apple, Google and Intel, the company has finally decided to revamp and expand not just its logo but its entire business process. As the company’s brand strategy Manager, Jeff Hansen said: “It’s been 25 years since we’ve updated the Microsoft logo and now is the perfect time for a change. This is an incredibly exciting year for Microsoft as we prepare to release new versions of nearly all of our products.”
The new logo is quiet simple, with four colored boxes in front Microsoft name which is now featured in straight font called ‘Segoe’. Although the new design is very much reminiscent of the old one, where four wavy squares featured with bold and italic ‘Microsoft’; the approach of the company is remarkably different. Why so? Because with ‘windows 8’ and the ‘Surface’ in the bag, the company plans to expand its consumer market and business, quiet differently from its traditional software approach. Jeff Hansen elaborated more on the new design as he said: “From Windows 8 to Windows Phone 8 to Xbox services to the next version of Office, you will see a common look and feel across these products providing a familiar and seamless experience on PCs, phones, tablets and TVs. This wave of new releases is not only a reimagining of our most popular products, but also represents a new era for Microsoft, so our logo should evolve to visually accentuate this new beginning.”
Since this year, Microsoft took the world by surprise while introducing a whole new range of products; a design change is not shocking news. With much hype on the new windows 8 and Windows 8 phone to be revealed soon, the new box look reflects somewhat the tile user interface the new products will feature.
However, there is quiet a mix reaction on the new design of the company where some calls it boring while others falls for its simplistic approach. One of the graphic designer, Sagi Haviv, who designed logos for the Library of Congress, calls it ‘boring and less distinctive’.
“It needs to be unusual enough to persist in the mind. Those four squares — it’s very inert. It just sits there. It has no motion, no tension — it’s not dynamic in any way.”
He also believes that for such a big company like Microsoft, one expects something great rather than something generic.
But on the other hand, James Coulson who worked for Syfy networks thinks the opposite. I think it’s really good. It’s a very logical progression. It’s more friendly.” He appreciates the company’s approach of being simple yet creative within the changing times. “High technology should be invisible, its the information that matters. I think Microsoft is getting closer to this, and I think thats what the new logo embodies.”
No matter how interesting or boring the new design may be; the new approach of the company is surely something that could raise several eyebrows among its competitors.
The Change in the industry
Brand imaging and designing are important aspects of how well a company executes its marketing strategy. Since the business and technology environment is constantly changing and improving, the corporations need to reconstruct themselves well among their consumers and competitors while introducing a change. The new design is also such an attempt by Microsoft, in order to not to lose out to its competitors.
Now if we look at Apple and Google, the two major rivals of Microsoft today, both have a history of constant reimaging their designs with improving innovations. Since 1976, Apple logo has constantly changed and evolved from its previous logo. Even the first ever logo had no bitten Apple, the second symbolized the lust, knowledge and hope with a bitten rainbow apple. The credit for it also goes to Steve Jobs who wanted a more better and innovative design for the company.
Similarly, Google is quiet popular for constantly doodling its name to mark the special occasion. It has a history of constantly changing its logos and with the rapid expansion of its business; the company’s marketing department has utilized the brand aesthetics quiet well. As Haviv puts it: “Look at Google — they change their logo every day and it works for them.”
Now as the Apple and Google take on the market with not just new innovations and designs, a new look for Microsoft was required if not necessary. Before the consumers can have their hands on a company’s products, the image of a company is created in the minds with its logos, designs or taglines. Hence it is necessary that these are executed well enough to reach the customers well. So what do you think about the Microsoft logo: Its simple or is it too (boringly) simple?
Even more importantly, Microsoft has been the dominating player and sole player in the software industry for quiet a long time. Now with the recent fragmentation of the computer and software market, owing to the emergence of potential players like Apple, Intel, Google, the company’s dominance is at stake. With all the other competitors using different marketing strategies to target the customers more aggressively, Microsoft has to rebrands its image in order to retain its customers. And with highly anticipated Windows 8 and related products arrival, the time has come for a change.
Interestingly, the new logo seems to bring good fortunes to the company. The news of the new logo is followed by the news of Apple winning a major court battle against Samsung. Now with Samsung design and Android software in trouble, Microsoft can truly cash on the opportunity to enter the smartphone and tablet market with the launch of Windows 8.
(The article was written for Rasala Publications Brand, PCWorld Pakistan)