There has been a flurry of online conversation regarding the updated Microsoft and Ebay logos. Many people expressed disgust and disappointment about Microsoft’s inability to “get with the real world” and come up with something really creative.
What many designers ‘feel,’ often exceeds the practicality of effective corporate identity design. With more and more frequency, I see designers placing an emphasis on creative execution over practical application. Too many logo designers have other agendas than ensuring their design solutions are in accordance with the brand objectives of their client. Cutesy tricks and visual gimmicks seem to trump the all-important rule that an effective logo should work well in every context and on any platform.
Business owners, too, can become sucked into the “gotta-have-a-lot-going-on-in-my-logo” push.
Brand identity development is MUCH more than just the look of the company logo, it’s the inherent character the trademark communicates about the personality of the company. Easier said than done, this needs to be distinctive, relevant and as MS has done, have a physical emphasis on simplicity. Simplicity—elegantly executed—establishes an inherent credibility. The brand that doesn’t need to jump through graphic hoops communicates confidence. The big brands will consistently reproduce their mark in every media and this will yield impact, recognition and memorability. Credibility (trust) and memorability is critical to the buying decision.
Back to Microsoft…and may I add, now Ebay. Both marks seem to be cut from the same ‘design cloth’ and are following a minimalist, cleaner look—sans serif with a more muted color scheme. There are other large companies following this trend. A boring, uninspired move you feel? I could not disagree more. There is wisdom in those marks. More emphasis on simplicity culminates in reestablishing the functional 2D design roots of the all-powerful corporate ID design. I wholeheartedly welcome it!
Now, if they’d have asked me…
How these reproduce in black & white and gray-scale will affect their effectiveness in every media. It’s got to be perfect everywhere it’s seen.
It would have been perfect if Microsoft differentiated the four squares with some kind of variant which retained continuity, but introduced a bit of random uniqueness, like the notched ‘O’ in the word mark. This is good, but it could have been awesome.