Microsoft Slate Design re-brand
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Microsoft : Re-branded - Student breathes new life into old designs

Andrew Kim, currently attending the Art Centre College of Design has completed what I can only describe as one of the most compelling Microsoft rebranding exercises I have ever seen.  Andrew explains clearly, not only what he thinks is wrong with the current Microsoft picture but goes on to design it. And what a job he does.

Whilst Microsoft is on the tipping point of bringing together its whole eco system there remains a problem, image. Those that remember the launch of Windows 7 should know to what I’m referring. Microsoft has an often-confusing marketing message, that video, um, where they had the party to celebrate the Windows 7 launch says all. I am certainly not looking for a repeat of that! Now that Microsoft has some amazing products and the Metro UI to shout about, it is time they had a good think about a serious ‘reimagining’ of their company-wide image.

Whilst the name Windows is strong with consumers, the branding simply does not match. Andrew shows how they might be able to re-assert themselves as ‘bringers of tomorrow, a company that seeks to push our world forward though progress through technology. I see branding & marketing message as Microsoft’s next major hurdle. I feel that whilst the new Windows Logo is nice, it is not without problems, I personally also find it a little uncomfortable visually.

Slate Logo

Andrew has deconstructed the very notion of a Windows logo by looking at how real windows look on something like a tower block in a big city, no they don’t look like windows. His ultra-minimal, logo the “slate” is born and is fully compliant with the story of Metro. Bravo!

Interesting just how good this new logo looks, both as a window showing a glimpse of a space age future, and for how smart it looks on both Windows Phone and brand new Surface Tablet/Slate. The level of thoughtfulness and attention to detail in his exploration is inspiring. The Office rebrand is actually just two ‘slate’ logos together. I like this too, symbolic of the software and hardware working together to form a whole functional unit. Whatever, I love it.

Andrew doesn’t forget Microsoft’s most accomplished design, Windows Phone, it already has the design chops to compete on its own, Andrew simply embellishes it with some snazzy alternative colour schemes and how that could look with his ‘Slate’ logo. I think the overall effect is stunning.

I would like to hear what you think of this Microsoft rebrand. Is it just crazy or is this guy onto something?  

Source: Andrew Kim

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Comments

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WPSteve says:

I like! Pay this man and adopt it! (Likely not going to happen)

theefman says:

The best thing MS can do is execute perfectly with their portfolio of new products this year. That alone will reestablish their image, changing the branding is only going to bring about disagreement between those who like it and those who dont. They already have a tough enough job convincing people to try Windows Phone and establishing Windows 8 as a serious tablet competitor, now is not the time to confuse people with new branding.

BK-one says:

I agree with you. Lets not make things more complicated. And I'm sure the window 8 stickers/logos/ etc have already been mass produced to go on devices.

Z10YkakPES says:

Always wanted black and white, especially on my black Nokia Lumia 900

neolp123 says:

+20000
i always wanted a black and grey color tile.. would look so awesome on my Titan...
 
i hope wp 7.8 has that color

Kraistus says:

+1

I too am drooling over those dark gray tiles with black background. Hoping to use them soon-

peterjr1boom says:

+1000 love the color scheme! :D

Z10YkakPES says:

Always thought they should make the wheel of colors, move clockwise you pick a color, left right, brighter and darker, thats what i call personal experience, color tiles that only you have and matches your mood.

Saljen says:

Homebrew my friend, the color wheel is already available. It's there for both the tiles and the background color, and it's wonderful.

bpgui says:

I really want that color scheme

robert brand says:

Fingers crossed, perhaps WP8 (WP7.8) will allow for such carefree choice of colour options! :)

Munkeyphyst says:

I have dark grey tiles on my phone. The problem is that it's hard to distinguish between the highlighted new texts and old texts. So you have to go darker which then makes the theme colored text hard to read.

+1
I came here mostly because of that. Dark gray theme goes very well with black phones.

Windows 8 already has a new symble and I'm getting it tattooed on me today

vaultboy21 says:

whoa, now that's dedication!

slkrck says:

PAY THE MAN!!

ScarletStar says:

Looks sexy :3
And yeah, when I first saw the Win8 logo I thought it was weird...

The windows 8 logo looks like 4tiles I like it

cdbstl76 says:

Its really good!!!!!

kwool says:

Sorry, no way. It looks just like the new Air France logo.

 

robert brand says:

Thats a good point. I like the Air France Logo too though :)

Banstyle says:

MS already got burned trying to brand all their products together with the "Live" monkier. So they will probably shy away from putting the same logo variant on all their products. Aside from Metro interface they don't want them too closely associated.
I know dynamic logos are the new hot thing to do in marketing, and I do like the idea. DC Comics did an awesome version. But, there's no way MS will rebrand Windows 8 at this stage, maybe for Windows 9 they should hire this guy. :)
I don't know why people don't like the Windows 8 logo, to me it's perfect! It looks like a windows pane (like it always has) but also looks like the metro icons.

Saljen says:

I don't know about other people, and I dont hate the new Windows 8 logo per-say, but I don't love it. It's too sharp and it doesn't blend into devices very well. Not saying that this re-imagining doesn't have the same faults, but those faults are still present on the current Win8 logo.

Saw this last week and definitely think he did an excellent job. I think it may be too late now to change but he needs to be hired asap!

robert brand says:

Yes this one has been around for a while, I thought it worthy of mention. Certainly not going to form any part of a MS re-design. Its a really nice thought provoking piece that hopefully might make its way to those that matter. Concepts are good. 

Saljen says:

Thanks for posting this here, I some how skipped over it when it was posted on other sites I read. I really like peices like this, they really spark my imagination and are always entertaining to read, even if the designs aren't to my liking (though I love this one). Keep up the good work!

cioculetsv says:

Why on Earth black is not an accent for WP? It will look gorgeous on a black Lumia, with the ClearBlack Amoled display!

winbot says:

Not bad, but there's a problem with that logo.
It should represent "Windows", not just one window.

Neusyn says:

It somehow reminds me if Zune...

jcagga says:

I dont get what the fuss is about. Am I missing something??

SaPlaneGuy says:

I saw this last week and I had to commend him on how well he copied Apple's branding wholesale. I'm disappointed to see this posted here.

robert brand says:

Copied Apple wholesale? Interesting, why do you think that?

Munkeyphyst says:

Yes. Please explain this...

Munkeyphyst says:

Oh. I see. Apple invented black text on white... And you dismiss his entire portfolio based on this one image of packaging. You're delusional.

SaPlaneGuy says:

They didn't, but like a lot of things tech, they are "known" for it even though someone else (usually MS :P ) invented it. Anyone who makes a box and ads like that is seen as a copycat or is an official apple accessory manufacturer.

uberlaff says:

There are a lot of good ideas in this article.
 
The only thing is the logo looks very out of place on devices. On the phone it looks like a visual break or '/' to emphasize the seperation of the "back" button and "search" button. 
 
Everything else is great! The naming, color schemes, and fonts are all excellent.

caboose8402 says:

I am torn on this. Reading Microsoft's explanation of the new Windows tablet makes it make sense, but I love the idea of Surface. It is already the name of their tablet and they would be able to reinvent themselves as a company as they bring out a unified front through their new suite of devices and software. Surface is a great name and I think it would work better as the name of the whole brand. Surface PC, Surface Tablet, Surface Phone, and Surface X (for us XBox users).

Jess82#WP says:

This was my thought as well. People got a bad taste in their mouth with windows. I do think it's to late at this stage though. :/ miss opportunity I guess.

Wheezle says:

Yes, because with Microsoft's renewed push into the consumer market, what they really want is a logo design based on the window of a skyscraper. Everyone relates to skyscrapers, right?
What a load of toss.

ptf237 says:

Very odd to see this story get so much coverage on the net. The student's design isn't very good (too generic and wouldn't look good on devices) and he doesn't appear to have read Microsoft's explanation of the new Windows logo.

mmoses1978 says:

Nice one, I like very much.

Jess82#WP says:

I'm not a fan of his logo. Feels pretentious and bland. Its like he's trying hard not to try hard... Or something like that. And it looks terrible on the phone.

I wish people would stop talking about this.  These logo designs are hideous.  I much prefer the Windows 8 logo.

Alex_Hong says:

I actually quite like the simplicity of it. Looks very modern and minimalistic. But i think it is not that easily identifiable? I mean, its a sheared rectangle. Which probably is quite hard to copyright as it is a shape, albeit not as common as square or a circle. But still, its like me designing a logo that is just an orange circle, and trying to copyright that and prevent others from using. So would the copyright of the logo entails what angle it is at, the length of it, the thickness of it? And then other people cannot use that particular measurements at all?
 
I think the current logo is actually pretty good already, no need for a major rebrand.
 
That sheared rectangular logo is quite different from the one they have been using. It has always been a 4 pane window. Even the logo on windows 8. It is in my opinion that this rebrand concept is shows too much detachment to the windows brand.
 
Here's why i think so:
 
Windows 8, albeit having metro UI, still has a traditional desktop view. They have been touted as able to run all windows apps, even Visicalc 1.0 from 1981.
 
So with the new windows 8 logo, they still have that "4 pane window" logo, but it also looked like tiles from Metro UI, albeit being at an angle.
 
The 4 pane window hinted at the OS being able to run app from previous systems, and of course the traditional desktop view. Looking like tiles is a brilliant touch hinting at the new Metro UI.
 
The tilted effect is a nice touch imo, gives it a nice perspective. It looks as if the window is beside you. Imagine you're in your room, lying on your bed, reading a book, or browsing on your tablet, on a nice sunny afternoon. Then imagine the windows placement in your room. Would it be more comfortable to have the windows placed beside you, allowing light to come in by the side and providing natural light? OR, a window directly in front of you, shining into your eyes, making reading uncomfortable? Its like saying i'm here to aid you in your daily tasks, not obstruct it.
 
The single colour that changes when you change your colour is a nice personable touch. Showing whatever colour you wish it to be. Making the "Personal Computer (PC)", more personal. Which is precisely what i feel when i use my Lumia 800. Once i unlock it, i see MY colour, a tile titled "ME", with MY picture on it.
 
---
 
But Andrew did make a good point about windows in Metropolis not being a 4 pane window. But I would like to see a more thorough brand guideline to be able to decide if this exercise was really warranted for. But from what i see in the pictures above, i like how it has been integrated with advertisement. :D
 
The current logo was conceived by Pentagram if i'm not mistaken. Microsoft must have already paid a fortune to them. hahaha. I doubt they'll easily rebrand it.
 
Whew, that was a long comment. :p

robert brand says:

Thanks, it was long but I have enjoyed your opinion. :)

simbadogg says:

this was covered on the verge, the design is awful

F8_Sean says:

I like the design. Lots of blacks and grays, very industrial yet user-friendly. 
 
Made a WP7 lockscreen wallpaper from one of the images:
https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=E3F98A40BB10F46B!225&authkey=!APz6oDd2ydajU-k

mjrtoo says:

Another non-story, it's a lame logo, and the name surface isn't even that good. Who wants a surface...i want a phone, or an Xbox etc.

Saljen says:

An obvious troll is obvious.

mjrtoo says:

Obvious troll? Normally I'm called a fanboy. :-). I was just commenting that the design sucks balls, not because I like apple, just because it does. There is no way that Microsoft will use such a lame logo. Now black and grey tiles, sure, why not. But anyway, maybe look at some of my previous posts before you call me an obvious troll....won't look as stupid.

What I do think is that Microsoft need a new logo for this big release. And his idea is very good on that front.

jake69 says:

as a graphic designer myself...as though at first glance it looks nice. But the more I look at it the more it looks like a big red mark crossing out the device...negative perception imo.

i love this guys interpretation...simple yet powerful...
How come the Microsoft people never thought of something like this?

DocSc00teR says:

I don't like it.
 
Well, that's not entirely true. I do like the idea of streamlining Microsoft's branding. And I like the idea of retooling the text of their logo to match the font choices in the Metro design style.
 
But the actual iconic visual is no less uncomfortable that the sharp angle of the new Windows icon. It doesn't sit well on the baseline of a line of text (perhaps if it centered its ascender and descender it would be better). Also, the suggested icon is simply so generic that it gets lost amidst all the other trends of post-1995 iconic logo design.
 
But the biggest problem is the effort to abandon the primary marketing tool Microsoft has available: the name "Windows." (To be fair, Microsoft is doing this a bit as well, but to a lesser extent.) In order to affirm the synergy between its product portfolio, and in order to capitalize on the familiarity of the Windows brand, Microsoft should be slapping the word "Windows" on everything that links together.

  • Windows 8
  • Windows 8 Phone
  • Windows 8 Slate (Yeah, I think "Surface" is a stupid name for a slate/tablet.)
  • Windows 8 Surface (Reserve that name for the tabletop displays as it used to be.)

The Xbox branding is already strong enough as it is, and would become confusing with "Windows" attached to it. And it is far too late to exchange the "360" part of the brand for something consistent. But in a perfect world, Microsoft would have users upgrade their XBox operating system/user interface to "Xbox 8" when WIndows 8 was released. Users would instantly know that all their "8" products are the same generation and intended to work together. What's more, when the inevitable "9" rolls around, even if it's totally compatible with "8" products, consumers would feel a subjective pressure to upgrade all of their synergistic devices to the new "9" protocol, creating even more revenue for Microsoft.
 
One final thought: The suggestion of new colors. Ugh! Nothing is more subjective than a user's efforts to tweak their own visual interaction with their devices. Heck, we've all be slapping our own custom wallpapers on our desktops for many years. Microsoft blew it when they offered a limited palette in Windows Phone 7, but at least they chose colors that worked well visually and made the devices "pop" when seen in use on the street. Hopefully Windows Phone 8 will allow for a very quick selection of colors and a much larger range of options. Then the design student could select chartruse-on-gray if he really wants. But official marketing should stick to higher contrast colors that "pop" on the background, and should select a limited range of colors for advertising that is consistent across the portfolio (so that Metro on a PC or a slate picks up the same visual cues when seen on a Phone).
 
-- S
 
P.S. Hmm... Not like I'm opinionated or anything, eh...?   :)

robert brand says:

Hello there, thanks for your comments, great stuff. I tend to agree, changing the colours and style of OS themes is something I find highly dubious. But if a sensible pallete were to be found and built in then I see no harm. Also agree, the Xbox 360 is a super strong brand/image already, perhaps Microsofts strongest in terms of image kudos. They have great products, but would be nice to see Microsoft start selling them with an effective marketing message?

OMG55 says:

Robert, while I think the design is simplistic and clean, I do also think the windows logo on the surface looks very good on the kickstand as well. I do think you guys should reach out to Microsoft concerning tile colors offered on wp7 & win8. I think they should only offer colors that coordinate with the color of the device. Example: white and black devices get all colors. Blue devices only get colors that display well against it, etc. I'm loving that gray/white/black tile grid on his design

Saljen says:

"white and black devices get all colors. Blue devices only get colors that display well against it, etc."
Display well against it by who's taste? This would be a fucking rediculus notion.

OMG55 says:

You're ridiculous! For example, when I had the cyan L900 prior to exchanging it for white, I only used three colors because certain ones just did coordinate well. As for the question of whose standards, a professional...MS has millions of dollars to work with someone to ensure that only colors that show well against the phones housing are shipped with it. And you can time your vulgarity down now, its not that big a deal.

mythos13 says:

Very nice but I would like it better if it was a Lumia concept phone.

boschi66 says:

uh... it's not about four squares looking like modern window or whatever, it's the symbol that is planted in people's mind since they were little. it's the shape outline which people associate when they hear the word "windows". I dont know about you all, but, a parallelogram doesn't come up when I hear windows...
 

Thamuz says:

I absolutely love this concept, I realy hope microsoft can start to live up to the expectation of a modern company.

blackprince says:

It works great as a marketing program but on the back of the Surface or the front of the Lumia it looks out of place, unrecognizable. Its quite simple and modern but not workable as the main logo.

pr0phecy says:

I'm sorry, I know what the designer is trying to do here and I appreciate his work, but I'm just not feeling this. Not my kind of taste I guess. Love the current logo which represents the tiles. A little off topic, but I need me some Surface pro already! I need to be it released tomorrow! :'(

robert brand says:

Yes, where is that darn Surface! I need it weeks ago! :)

SleepyTheDon says:

I like it. PERIOD
 
Great Job, only thing is keep the window on the phone as the "Home Button" 

ink13 says:

Sounds great...

willied says:

Looks quite blah to me. Just keep it as it is.

I think this is a really neat and creative idea! Microsoft should adopt this new brand.

ZuNuKoo says:

I see two topics going on. The logo and the color scheme, the color I agree with, I just want grey. Isn't this just one tile from the win8 logo stretched out. I don't like it. I like the effort though. It's not one pane of glass, it's window(s). Always has been always will.

robert brand says:

I thought the exploration was commendable as a whole piece. Like you, I'd settle for the grey ;)

OMG55 says:

Yeah, it would be like Apple changing there logo to a pear.....people would think it was a knockoff. The only way a complete move away from some sort of windows logo would be if MS purchase a company like dell bought alienware and kept it as a separate entity yet everyone knows they own it

fwaits says:

Some decent ideas, but the logo is too iconic to change entirely like that I think.  The branding is debatable too IMO.  Design and braning are so subjective, for a company the size and maturity of Microsoft to change on that level is a HUGE undertaking and needs careful thought and planning.  It would likely be a better use of funds to improve their brand image vs. a "revamp" of their branding/logo and such.

Saljen says:

I agree with you that its too huge for this generation of Windows, however it would work wonderfully for Windows 9. The Windows 8 logo is already basically the same with a vertical line through it, all this logo does is remove that vertical line and change the shape only slightly. It does give a more unified message and I think that is what Microsoft is striving for and this is the way to do it, just not yet.

mjfadaway says:

This is highly overrated. I mean the tile color is nice, but that's about it. Microsoft keep doing what you're doing.

robert brand says:

Have you seen Microsofts marketing efforts? What they are doing isn't working. The overarching theme here is what I liked. The notion that a cohesive design for marketing could be achieved instead of the disperate, confusing and often kludgy efforts I have seen to date.

btgusto says:

logo does not represent "windows" to me.  I like the refresh of the windows logo better

Pluckcharm says:

What the? That's it? A big /... IMHO a preschooler can think of something more creative. Black tiles yes its good but the new w8 logo rox my sox

robert brand says:

Some great feedback here, thanks all for your comments, alas I must sleep. RB

namikral says:

Not good at all

ninjaap says:

I mean... it's cool and minimalistic and all, but if you say Windows, this logo doesn't easily come to mind. If you say Apple - BAM an apple comes to mind. If you say Android - BAM a little robot comes to mind. It makes senese. But if you say Windows, this slashy-thingy does not come to mind. However, if you say Metro, this could work. I doubt MS is going to rebrand Windows and Windows Phone to Metro, though.

RepoUK says:

Andrew Kim's attempt is light years better than M$'s attempt.
The pale blue Windows 8 logo is a complete shitfest. Ultra bland products for ultra bland businesses is what it says to me.

Saljen says:

Are we really still using M$? Really?

OMG55 says:

The flat, steel gray logo on the surface look perfect. They should use that logo on all products.

Solidstate89 says:

I'm not a fan at all of this design.

travisonfire says:

This is so Apple. Microsoft might be sued. Although I like the WP8 color palettes. 

Munkeyphyst says:

MS should just drop the plural "s" from windows and call the individual OSes "Window"

The Family of Windows:
Window 8
Window 8 RT
Window Phone 8

As Metro no longer utilizes the windows anymore and modern devices are basically a glass "window" through which users view and interact with the digital world and media. Even modern desktop displays are all flat screen windows now. T

mjrtoo says:

Let's just throw grammar out the windows...see what I did there... :-)

Munkeyphyst says:

I do see what you did there, :) but the grammar is still correct if you were to say, "I'm running Microsoft's Window Phone 8," or "My computer has Window 8." Just as you'd say your phone has Android Cotton Candy or your computer is running Tabby Cat. Neither of those are plural.

Dethzilla says:

That color scheme is the most beautiful thing I ever saw on the Windows Phone... They should just go with that.  Brilliant.  

bktoday says:

This guy might be onto something regarding the coolness of the brand itself. It's only been a couple of days since MS announced the "Surface". Even though the not so IT addicted people around me keep asking me for "this cool new Surface gadget" MS announced. No one has ever been asking for Windows 8. Maybe it's time to switch from the software brand "Windows" to the device brand "Surface"; maybe 2012 is about devices (and families of devices) - not platforms, at least for the consumer market. "Surface" is fresh, new and seems to have captured everybody's heart already. MS should let this coolness reflect on other devices of the family. That's why I like the idea of a "Surface Phone"; one brand, one clear message (regarding compatibility etc.) If it's too technic and complex, the end-user won't get it.
The design itself perfectly fits this message, but comes way too late, I think. Most of the materials are already printed...
Great job anyways!

erix_2pac says:

I like the theme color of the phone. Hope they add that too.. :-D

Saljen says:

More than anything I like the new Microsoft logo in that font and in all lowercase. It screams modern and something new, something that Microsoft has been trying to scream for a while now but with a soar throat.

Saljen says:

After reading that article, the best I think Microsoft could do is incorperate some if not all of this into Windows 9. It's too radical a change after they've already made similar changes so recently, however they are all changes in the right direction. One thing they should do immidately though is add that color palate to Windows Phone 8. Those colors make it look intelligent, forward thinking, and above all metro. The colors Microsoft chose for its Windows Phone 7 platform look nothing but childish in compairison.

jjMustang says:

Looks great! That person has talent.

MrRazak says:

This is a total disconnect and too close to the apple look. I agree certain products logos etc need the consistency, but this is definitely not the way to go.

neonspark says:

I like it, but then again MSFT is full of inconpetent marketing people. this person better stay away or he'll be creating idiotic stuff like the "really" windows phone ads or the "windows 7 was my idea".
lastly, he didn't fix metro which is part of the problem. metro takes simplification to the extreme and does not know when to back off. visual studio monochrome color scheme is the perfect example of when the ideas behind metro are taken to an extreme. metro can be beautiful and slick, but concentrating on geometries and solid punchy colors is the wrong way to go.
 
 

I know him from the DAPreview forums. He can do better than this. Don't like it much.

Kompleet says:

The presentation is good, and it really feels like a designer work.
And that's the problem. As a graphic designer myself, I can see all the effort in the presentation and the explanations. But the error that too many designers make is that they don't put themselves as the average Jo, the consumer, the target. 
A window, in people's mind is a four square shape, period. Show this concept logo to anyone, and never they would think of a window. 
I love minimal design, less is more is my motto, and I hate the skeuomorphic insanity from Apple, but minimal design has limits, as conceptual creation do either. 

WinFan1 says:

i like the design but it wouldnt make any sense as the logo for microsofts "Windows" brand