The blogosphere has been abuzz about the newly released Windows 8 logo designed by Paula Scher of Pentagram.
Windows is not known for their great strides in the design spectrum and perhaps is trying to dispel this fact. Maybe it is not fair to judge the logo without seeing it in context but I have to say it is pretty….ugly that is!!!!! I’m kidding, but not really.
I love Scher and her team’s concept, to make the logo a window instead of a flag and to simplify it. They are after all Windows. But the design part looks like it took 5 minutes. I know this is what everyone says about everything so I decided to put my money where my mouth was and literally redesigned her logo in 5 minutes.
It kind of looks like the flag for some Nordic country but isn’t it better?
I did a second one which took 20 minutes and is my favorite.
Through my redesign of a redesign, I will take you through what I think is wrong with their execution.
1) The ever so slightly off-kilter perspective. I love symmetrical logos. I feel all logos should be basically symmetrical unless they are obviously asymmetrical. Great symmetrical logos? Coco Chanel, Starbucks, VW, American Airlines.
Great asymmetrical logos? Nike, Apple, and DC.
They explain they wanted it to be like opening a window, but this window is begging to be closed.
As you can see in my 5 minute redesign, just simply making it a perfect square makes me feel so much better.
2) The type treatment. I hate the typeface, it looks like a shittier version of Myriad which is not only the default in Adobe Illustrator, it is also the Apple typeface used for iPod, iTouch, yada yada. It reminds me of early design school days, when us students would try to print out our work from a different computer and then find out later that that computer did not have the typeface we were using and it was automatically replaced by Myriad. Ahh, memories.
Why does it have to be sans-serif? Everybody thinks just because it’s associated with technology or corporations it has to be sans-serif. Serif typefaces can have just as much of that streamlined, clean feeling as sans-serif but with a more human tone. Look at Obama’s celebrated logo. Presidential logos are famously sans-serif but he went ahead and used serif plus a little logo accompanying his name. Now that is revolutionary. Can we use serifs? Yes, we can!
Also, a capitalized “W” is so large. If you think about it, it is the widest letter in the alphabet with “M” tied or a close second depending on the typeface. It dwarfs the other letters so I think all of the letters should be capitalized. Furthermore, why is there a space in between the end of the word and the 8? Again, symmetry! It is breaking it in a weird way. The 8 looks like it is inching away from Windows like a woman from a grabby drunk old guy at a bar. It is saying, “I don’t want any part of this logo… I am infinity for Christ sakes!”
I did not address the coolness of the 8 in my redesign. (Symmetrical on the horizontal and vertical axis? Woah that’s nutty!) But I think there is more to explore here. I did however choose a serif typeface, Officina, for my redesign. It is designed by Spiekermann (the guy who says ubiquitous a lot in the movie Helvetica.) It is blocky but not too blocky, sophisticated yet still friendly. I am pro serifs! (Except of course for Futura, I am a sucker for Futura.) (Have you noticed I love parenthesis?) (They are awesome.)
3) The small lines between the “window panes.” The width should really be bigger. This is mostly a matter of aesthetics. Also, the logo needs to look good big and small, if you were to zoom out of it, these lines will be too small.
4) The color. This blue seems completely random. Were they trying to go with something close to the original logo?
It seems cold and technology shouldn’t be cold. Especially now how computers are so integrated with our lives. No longer is the computer just a wheezing machine banished to the basement/office. We practically cuddle our smartphones and laptops at night. For nerds, they are our friends, for non-nerds they at least connect us with our real friends. Mostly all of Windows’ other logos had four colors, red, green, blue, and yellow.
Why just throw them all out? Sure, it produces a kiddy-crayola kind of effect but it is what makes Microsoft recognizable. That’s why I kept it for my redesign. I think the grey sophisticated typeface saves it from being too play-dough.
Here it is again:
Here is Microsoft’s defense, errrr explanation.
Here is the release on Pentagram’s side. It includes some perspective drawings…look we spent 30+ minutes on this!
The Brand New blog has a pretty spot on review as well. Here is a tidbit: “this ‘minimal’ approach looks like, well, a window. A window in a $400-a-month studio apartment rental with beige carpeting and plastic drapes.” Ooo burn.
Am I being a bit harsh? Yes. There are good parts about this logo. I like that Windows decided to do something completely different than what they have done before. On the flipside, if you are going to throw away all of the company’s past designs you better come up with something amazing. All too often large corporations arbitrarily redesign their identity. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In this case of course, it was broke.
Another positive is that this design is refreshing compared to their past heavy, dark logos. This is why I am being so harsh. It frustrates me that is it is so nearly almost awesome. It has the potential to be sooo good. If they did just minor tweaks, it would be there. I get that they were going for simple and clean. Which it is, but it is ironically difficult to design a good simple design.
I haven’t seen a failed logo like this since the release of the London Olympics logo.
Let’s not even get started on this one.
As a disclaimer: It is really really easy to criticize design work, especially graphic design work. This is part of the reason why I love graphic design. It is mass produced for the masses. But before you criticize other people’s work, think to yourself: could you really do better? Like most things, it is harder than it looks.
P.S. If anyone from Pentagram is reading this, I totally do not mean anything I just wrote. Please see my portfolio if you have any positions open!