Interestingly, though living in Seattle as a graphic and web designer for many years (1993 through 2008), I had never seen the older Microsoft corporate logos. This is the most interesting part of Microsoft’s new logo design; comparing the new to the old. Jeff Hansen, Microsoft’s general manager of brand strategy, says the new design is intended to “signal the heritage but also signal the future — a newness and freshness.” The unveiling of the new brand comes as Microsoft prepares to launch new and updated versions of many of its core products.
Nothing about Microsoft’s new corporate logo design is surprising given design styles today and commonly used technology colors. What is surprising is that for the first time, Microsoft chose not to be so heavy handed. The softer gray and slimmer rounded typeface of Segoe is certainly a nice shift from decades past Microsoft brands. The company already uses Segoe in many of its applications, as well online and printed marketing materials. You can download the Segoe typeface at their website.
Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land pointed out in a Google+ post that the new Microsoft logo design shares a common color theme and typeface with Google’s Chrome browser. Microsoft, however, has been using variations on these four colors for over two-decades. Ironically, it is Google Chrome that also uses the Segoe typeface, whose name at least is a registered trademark of Microsoft, according to Wikipedia, but was originally developed by Monotype. Microsoft has its own extensive type foundry on the Monotype website.
It’s unknown if the new corporate brand’s goal to — “signal the heritage but also signal the future” — will alleviate Microsoft’s longstanding frustration with consumers and technology groups. Unfortunately, cleaning up that mess has little to do with brand design and everything to do with better product and application design as well as the way Microsoft behaves in the technology community. Given that Microsoft has been around since 1979, it would be a mistake to underestimate the former juggernaut, now surpassed by Apple.