23 August 2012

[logo] Bye, Bye, Pac-Man: Microsoft Remodels Its Logo … And It's Pretty Good!

2861.For many, many years, this is what you've seen:

Obliqued Helvetica Bold with an odd little bite out of the O designed to line up with the S adjacent. Many famous logos acquire nicknames; NASA's classic is called the Meatball while a latter-day interpretation was called the Worm. The above rendering of MSFT's identity, because of that hungry little ovoid in the middle, was called Pac-Man. 

MSFT itself has been through a few versions. There was the one born during the Albuqurque days, and the gone-but-not-forgotten BibbetPac-Man came to was born in 1987 and died just now, in 2012, 25 years - a long time, an eternity for a technology company. But the logo, designed by Scott Baker, has been a stable presence, and not a bad symbol - one I've always felt showed exactly how far you can got with a tiny little bit of design, placed just-so.

It's not your dad's MSFT anymore, kids. This is what we are now:

Ta da!

Logos are supposed to be full of symbolism. MSFT tries to keep it simple here. The four-color pane, or the 'Symbol', are (cue the whalesong) intended to express the company’s diverse portfolio of products. Peter Bright, writing for Ars Technica, makes a number of interesting points, amongst them: the new Symbol is a better fit with the Don't-Call-It-Metro design grammar that MSFT has devised while, at the same time, being – at best – an awkward dissonance to the other logos in the family so far represented by Windows 8 and the new Office logo, both of which suggest a sense of visual perspective that is totally absent, here.

The best point he made, and one I missed until he pointed it out, is the obvious (now) point that the colors in the Symbol now exactly replicate the colors in the obsolscent Windows logo, making it perhaps an appeal to or a way of keeping the old logo alive, which would be a good thing to me, because I'm still unimpressed by the Windows 8 logo evolution, which takes everything that was interesting and, actually, kinda nifty about the classic Windows logo (one I always enjoyed) and turned it into something characterless and pretty dull.

But the risk when you update a well-known logo for a company as famous as this is that you risk also losing a sort of familiarity, a resonance, that's built of long familiarity. There's a lot of good will that the design carries, and you risk losing that.

The new logo is a success in as much as one thing I noticed that I wasn't aware of when I considered the old logo and was only really apparent in comparison: the old logo's heaviness and darkness. There's a lightness and a color with this that is really quite welcome, and the use of a type that appears to be Microsoft's house font, Segoe, gives it an instant visual home with the rest of the current MSFT visual look. It's trim, fit, clean, and modern. And that's good. And so is this logo.


1 comment:

Brenda said...

I'm getting a 404 error trying to load the classic Windows logo. Good analysis, though.

- The Wife™