Microsoft debuts first new logo in 25 years – and four other controversial design changes

Microsoft has changed its logo for the first time in 25 years.

It comes during a time of dramatic change for the company. Having rolled out a substantial change to its user interface design through its Xbox, mobile and desktop platforms, Microsoft is attempting to show itself as an adaptable force against its rivals.

Its new logo shows four multi-coloured windows and a cleaner, thinner font for the company’s name.

“It’s been 25 years since we’ve updated the Microsoft logo and now is the perfect time for a change,” Jeff Meisner, the company’s brand manager, said in a blog.

“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.”


Of course, the reception has already been mixed. Most logo changes are subject to at least some fanfare, whether the design is good or bad. Major companies – such as Starbucks in 2011 – are hit with negative comments any time they make even the slightest change.

Brandology managing director Michele Hogan says the concept of a logo change affects consumer-based organisations more than it does B2B companies, as consumers become attached to the image of the company.

“It’s about evolution versus revolution,” she says.

“You see logos that have evolved over time, but haven’t changed. IBM and Apple are two good examples of that, in that they have changed over time but they’re pretty much the same logo.”

With Microsoft’s iconic change in mind, we thought it’d be a good idea to take a look at some other controversial logo changes – for better or worse.

1. Gap

The 2010 decision to change its logo brought Gap a lot of controversy. Announcing the change online, users flocked to Facebook and scorned the company for the new design.

It got so bad the company changed it back, and president Marka Hansen admitted “we didn’t go about this the right way”.

The incident was one of the first instances of a company being forced to change its policy due to an outcry on social media. It certainly wasn’t the last.

2. 2012 Olympics

The British government spent 400,000 pounds in designing the logo for the 2012 Olympics. The logo itself was debuted in 2007, and it wasn’t pretty. A BBC poll after the logo was released found 80% of votes gave it a low rating. Some publications even ran competitions from users to design their own logo.

3. ANZ

Who knew a brand could cost $15 million? Yet that’s exactly what ANZ spent on its new look a few years ago, when it unveiled a new brand for a marketing push.

Chief executive Mike Smith said at the time the “three shapes” design reflected the bank’s presence in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific – but it wasn’t a huge success and designers criticised the logo for its half-finished look.

4. City of Melbourne logo

The City of Melbourne unveiled a new logo in 2009, which cost taxpayers $240,000. Reaction to the design was mixed among design industry types, but overwhelmingly negative from the public at large.


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