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Microsoft’s new logo is designed for stores

The new Microsoft logo first showed up in a blog post by Jeff Hansen, the general manager of brand strategy at Microsoft. He wrote:

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. 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 re-imagining of our most popular products, but also represents a new era for Microsoft, so our logo should evolve to visually accentuate this new beginning.

Suddenly, every critic in the world is analysing the logo from every silly perspective imaginable. And you know me. How could I stay out of the debate? First, let me start by stating that the logo is banal. There, I've said it. Oh wait, I can also say: b-o-r-i-n-g!

If you give it some thought, though, this new logo serves a new purpose. It's for storefronts. This is not the old logo that was emblazoned on boxes of software. You have to see this thing as signage. Microsoft has never really had a genuine logo. It had a font logo and toyed with several others for a while, but it needed something to distinguish itself on a giant sign in front of a Microsoft store (the Redmond-based company now has about 30 of these stores up and running, or imminent, in the US, and one coming in Toronto).

I'm actually surprised that this function was not explored by anyone dissecting the new logo. Hansen even hints that the old logo may be on products for a while. This is because the new logo is going to target the stores first as the outside branding.

Hansen deconstructs the logo like so (for those of you trying to figure out what the company is thinking):

The logo has two components: the logotype and the symbol. For the logotype, we are using the Segoe font which is the same font we use in our products as well as our marketing communications. The symbol is important in a world of digital motion (as demonstrated in the video above.) The symbol's squares of colour are intended to express the company's diverse portfolio of products.

The squares of colour symbolise the diverse range of products? Really? The squares of colours used to refer to Windowing software. I would have thought that they now refer to “Metro” tiles. How did we go from Windows to tiles to a "diverse portfolio of products?" By the way, exactly how do four coloured blocks refer to more than four products? Blue would be for Microsoft Word, red for PowerPoint, orange for Outlook, and green for Excel. You know, just like the colours used for the program icons!

In a short video, Microsoft has changed the symbolism. Now, blue equals Windows, red equals Office, and green means the Xbox. What's orange? Nobody knows – yet.

This whole thing is a song and dance. In fact, to prove my point about the logo actually being signage, it was introduced at the opening of the new Boston store where celebrities like singer Lenny Kravitz and Boston Celtic basketball star Paul Pierce were present to shill for the company. I loved the way the bloggers at posted a gushing review that ended with this little kicker:

Marjorie Doirin, 17, from Revere, said she had waited since 5 a.m. for a chance to meet Kravitz at a concert. She got her wish, and a free Xbox to boot. "I've never seen a Microsoft store before, so I was just like, oooh," she said, describing her reaction to the unveiling [of the MSFT logo]. "It's awesome."


Meanwhile, Microsoft charges ahead with more and more retail operations. I'm telling you, the stores are the future of the company. You heard it from me first. The new logo is part of the change.