Microsoft Is In the Midst of Massive Rebrand, More than Metro

When Microsoft first announced the new logo for Windows 8 I wasn’t really a fan, it was different, very different, from what everyone is used to for Windows. Yes it was Metro but perhaps the single colour it will always use is boring and the angle that is appears with seems weird, even if it is meant to represent movement. However, after having used Windows 8 for months now I have grown used to the logo and no longer find it weird or out of place.

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This idea that Microsoft is finding ways to design all of software using the Metro UI isn’t new, nor has it only just been pointed out. It’s Operating Systems, software and websites have all steadily been moving over to use the Metro UI ever since Windows Phone 7 came out. I think this is great as it will provide a single UI for users to know and understand when trying to use any of Microsoft’s products. Additionally I really like the simplicity of the Metro UI.

However, what is actually more subtle with the invasion of Metro is that Microsoft itself is rebranding around Metro and not just using the UI on it’s software. It might be a subtle distinction but from what I can tell there is a massive rebrand across all of Microsoft’s most significant divisions that will the company a portfolio of brands that all work together and follow the same design principles; the most tangible of this alignment of brands is through their logos.

As seen above the Windows 8 logo has a single, solid colour with no gradients or special effects added to the logo. The logo is also placed at an jaunty angle to the text. These same principles can be seen in the new Visual Studio logo.

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Whilst two new logos do not a new brand make there has been a supposed leak of the new Office logo which also conforms with these apparent new logo guidelines.

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Normally in science experiments if you get the same result three times you can be sure that you have the correct answer and here we can see three new logos that all have the same set of rules for the way in which the new logos have all been designed. This makes me think that Microsoft is in the midst of a significant (perhaps its most significant) rebrand of its products.

The idea of Microsoft being able to have some kind of shared “DNA” between its brands and logo is not something new, 2 years ago there was speculation that Microsoft was going to unveil new logos for its consumer products, I’m glad they didn’t. Ugly.

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Each of the new logos by themselves seems weird compared to what went before it, but once I saw that each of these logos all work well together I actually much prefer the logos. They are very modern and distinctive and given a few years should easily be synonymous with Microsoft. In fact, after a few years it should be easy for consumers to identify a new logo as one of Microsoft’s products if it follows the same guidelines. Whilst the design decisions of any single logo might seen arbitrary when they are placed together it becomes apparent that actually there has been company wide thought into this rebrand, that fills me with confidence.

Soon it should be possible to identify a Microsoft product from looking at the Metro UI design of the software and also by just seeing it’s logo. Who would have thought that Microsoft would be able to have a common UI and unified brand little more than a year ago, I wouldn’t have. Whilst Metro might be the most apparent change to Microsoft’s products in the past couple of years it has allowed much more to change along with it, including, most significantly, the perception people have of Microsoft. I’m keen to see the other logos Microsoft could have planned for this rebranding.

This rebrand might have been pointed out before by others but I hadn’t seen it and so thought I’d share it. What other logos do you think we will see, if you create any mock ups of SkyDrive, Hotmail, Windows Phone, Bing etc. logos then please let me know.

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