At a recent design day event in Norway, Windows Phone design studio general manager Albert Shum and Todd Simmons, creative director at Wolff Olins, held a talk about "reimagining" Microsoft. After switching its Windows, Office, and Microsoft brand logos last year, it appears the company has some additional plans for Bing, Skype, Yammer, and Xbox. Simmons revealed a concept video from two years ago showing how Microsoft looked to rebrand its key products. Part of the video includes a new Bing logo that looks very similar to a paper airplane or flying boomerang.
At first it seems the clip is simply an old concept, like similar ones Microsoft has experimented with previously, but later in the presentation Simmons reveals design work for the same Bing logo and what appears to be a future Skype or Yammer brand change (see image above). "Other brands are coming along too," he notes before the reveal. "Bing, Skype, Yammer, Xbox…everything is under development as well." Both logos fit Microsoft's new approach to design, with a flattened look and colors that align well with other products.
Microsoft drew inspiration from Nike
Throughout the presentation, the pair discuss the alignment of design, marketing, product, and brand at Microsoft, and they also reveal some of the influences behind the company's new look. "We thought about Nike," says Simmons. "When you experience the Nike brand in whatever form you may experience it, there's always a Nikeness … You can certainly see it without the logo." Microsoft took an identical approach, so products looked similar together but could stand individually as their own brand.
Changing the Windows brand was the key part of Microsoft's "reimagination" says Simmons. "We also knew we wouldn't be able to change a single thing if we weren't able to change Windows." People, reach, and choice were the "three main drivers" to shift from the past and target consumers in a more meaningful way. The project was, and still is, a huge risk for Microsoft. Changing the look and brand of products that over a billion people use is never easy, but Microsoft has focused on design and user experience to get its message across. The presentation provides fascinating insight into Microsoft's overhaul, and you can watch the entire 45 minutes below.