Pentagram has unveiled a new look for the Microsoft Windows logo for Windows 8. There has been significant backlash around the Internet, but all of that misses the point of why the new Windows 8 logo is a brilliant move.
First, let’s catch you up in case you’ve been living a Luddite existence camping in the Appalachians the last few days. Microsoft revealed that the logo for Windows 8 rejects the established evolution of a multi-color flag waving briskly in the digital wind, and instead opts for a simple rectangle of blue divided vertically and horizontally by white lines. It looks like…well, it looks like a window. Go figure.
No Such Thing as Bad Publicity
Why is the new Windows 8 logo genius? Well, you’re reading this article, that’s why. There is an anecdote that a Ronald Reagan campaign strategist was once asked if he was concerned about negative ads being run by the former President’s opponent. His response was that there is no such thing as bad publicity.
The brain is a wondrous and complex organism, but in some ways it operates on a surprisingly simple binary level. Just look at the number of people who vote in local elections based on the candidate with the most yard signs. They don’t know anything about the candidates at all, but make some sort of connection that more yard signs somehow equates to a better choice.
Love it or hate it, the new Windows 8 logo is front and center in the public consciousness. It is being discussed and debated throughout the Web and around the world. When the dust settles, all that will remain is the fact that everyone is very familiar with the new Windows 8 logo, and instantly associates the blue, four-paned rectangle with Microsoft’s flagship operating system.
Animtion explaining the Windows 8 logo by Pentagram
Even Kids Can 'Read' Logos
Logos matter because they are easily and instantly associated with the brand. Long before children can actually read words and sentences they are able to “read” a wide variety of signs and symbols.
Some are purely symbols, like the golden arches of McDonald’s, or the “swoosh” on the side of a pair of Nike shoes. Some logos are also words, such as Subway, or FedEx, or Pizza Hut. The words become irrelevant, though, because it’s the colors and style of the word that registers in the brain as a connection to the brand the logo represents.
The logo is a symbol that is easily recognized, and immediately associated with the brand it represents. The dramatic change in the Windows logo is a not-so-subtle hint representing fundamental shift for the operating system itself.
Distinctive Line in the Sand
You may ask, “If the logo is so important to brand recognition, why would Microsoft reject its established brand and start over?”
It’s a fair question. I don’t have any inside information from Microsoft, and I don’t claim to have the answers. But, my guess is that Microsoft wants to establish that Windows 8 is “not your daddy’s Windows.”
It is drawing a line in the proverbial sand marking a fundamental shift for Windows as Microsoft strives to adapt to the changing times and embrace a more hardware-agnostic future that spans desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. It is a statement that Windows is evolving, and that it is more than the “Wintel” PC you’re used to.
There are many who dislike the Windows operating system and have a negative perception of it, and many who love Windows and cling to the Windows XP they bought a decade ago. The new logo achieves a simple goal for both of those groups—it provides a distinctive image instantly recognizable as Windows 8, but also creates some separation from previous versions of Windows and sends a clear signal that this is a new Windows.
If Microsoft would have tweaked the established Windows logo — perhaps having the 'flag' furl in a different direction — there would still be some purists who would complain, but at the end of the day it would be just another Windows logo. Nobody would really care, and it wouldn’t get this kind of attention.
The new Windows 8 logo is pure genius. It has captured attention, it is driving discussion, and it has clearly established itself in just a few days as a unique, distinguished symbol of the future of Windows.