Kudos to Microsoft, but not necessarily for the new logo design. Four colored squares. Sans serif font. As the Grinch would say: “Cut, print, check the gate. Moving on.”
Actually, they have probably done the right thing by simply reducing the Windows(R) element to its abstract essence. No perspective, but after a trillion online and print impressions over the coming years, it will still evoke Microsoftness. When a company spends more than $9 billion on R&D every year, they tend to spend a bit on advertising, too.
So, enough about the logo. To me, the smartest thing about the rebranding effort is the lack of a tagline to go with it. True, Microsoft hasn’t stuck its latest line — “Your potential. Our passion.” — on much lately, but the absence of a tagline to accompany the new logo means that the marketing folks at Microsoft have decided to go tagline free for good. Okay, for now.
It’s not like they’ve had a brilliant heritage of tagline wisdom. As best as I can tell, here’s the whole lineage in recent memory: “Where Do You Want To Go today?” > “Life Without Walls” > “Be What’s Next” > “Your potential. Our passion.” Maybe you see it, but I don’t find any “Just do it.” winners in the bunch.
There are really only two solutions for any decision about a company’s tagline: work the challenge ridiculously hard until you find the only word or set of words that completely expresses the essence of the brand, or shut up.
Let’s look at a handful of examples in the tech world:
VMware: “The power behind your cloud.” I think this works in an “Intel inside” kind of way. Maybe not perfect, but good.
DELL: “The power to do more” I think they license this tagline from The Home Depot. Not sure. What I do know is that DELL’s “power” tagline does absolutely nothing to draw from its heritage as the first technology company to actually personalize their products. So, why not “DELL: The power of YOU”? Just saying.
Xerox: “Ready For Real Business” Gee, Xerox, what kind of business were you ready for until now?
Norton: “Protecting the Stuff that matters.” Like. It lets the customer decide what to be insecure about. Plus, in the tagline world, the word “matters” is really, really hot.
IBM: No tagline. Correct.
So, with Microsoft, with such a disparate range of products and services and such a long and involved brand history (sounds like IBM), the only option is silence. No tagline at all. Congratulations, Microsoft. “You’re going to like the way you look. I guarantee it.”