Follow-up: Windows 8

Back in February we reported on the new Windows 8 logo designed by Pentagram partner Paula Scher — a release that got its thunder stolen by the leaking of the logo (not by us) ahead of time (not our fault). Officially, the Windows 8 logo is this and eight months after it was “unveiled,” the actual software behind the new, non-flag-anymore-logo was launched this past Friday to much hoopla around the world. See launch video later in this post. As part of the OS re-launch, which is a major departure from past Windowses, Microsoft is taking this opportunity to kickstart its new branding — after all, Windows is only the most used operating system in the world, so a lot of people are paying attention. The branding effort which now covers Windows but will spread into other Microsoft products has been lead by Wolff Olins, who describe their role to be “to curate all of the components and contributions into one clear, creative brand experience for consumers.” In the case of Windows these contributions include new packaging with structural construction by IDEO, illustrations conceived in collaboration with and created by Colors and The Kids, and brand imagery and video by Todd Selby.

Our goal was to do for the brand what is being done with the product. To do so, we took an engineering approach. We embraced the philosophy behind the product and the principles with which it was being built. Together, we developed the back-end in parallel with the front-end, thinking as hard about how the brand would be deployed as much as how it would be designed.
Wolff Olins Case Study

Brand video.

We focused on 3 genes in Windows’ DNA: Windows has always been about choice and diversity; Windows has enormous and enviable reach around the world; and Windows at its core is a humanist idea. It’s here to empower people and all the amazing things we want and need to do. Each of these attributes come to life in various ways within the new brand system, with reasons for being and clear functions for every part to play.
Wolff Olins Case Study

Logo/Perspective video.

Windows 8 Launch

Capture from video, showing the new brand summary.

The new logo comes nicely alive in the videos above. It’s colorful, it’s got a little bounce to it, and it’s engaging. But it’s still nothing to get overly excited about. In contrast to what past Windows versions have looked like, this is above and beyond better. Now that I think about it: I have no idea what, if like anything at all, previous Windows issues looked like. Most of the appeal is the OS itself, not the logo or the happy, handsome people that promote it. Which in a weird way is a good thing: there is less pitching of the product and more inherent interest in the product.

Windows 8 Launch

Windows 7 packaging, for comparison.

The biggest change and the one with the most razzle dazzle in the new version is the packaging. Look at the image above and try not to fall asleep. Now look at the stuff below and try not to let your eyeballs jump out of their sockets in excitement. The textures and arrangements are fun and unexpected. Even weird, making it evident that Microsoft is not settling for safe solutions altogether. This is the highlight of the Windows 8 launch.

Windows 8 Launch

New packaging. Structural design by IDEO, illustrations by Colors and the Kids.

Windows 8 Launch

Windows 8 Launch

Launch event in New York. More launches around the world here.

Launch ad.

Advertising in general bores me to death. So I’ll devote only what’s needed about these examples: they are fine. Overall, though, everything about the Windows 8 launch is revolution over evolution and it has been very well supported through media-friendly launches and this new, vibrant brand effort.

Windows 8 Launch

Windows 8 Launch

Windows 8 Launch

Reviewed October 29, 201210.29.12 by Armin

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