Rethinking Microsoft’s Brand

A really really interesting project by Andrew Kim where he re-thought and re-designed Microsoft’s entire brand and branding system. And right now, the company really needs a shot in the arm.

Kim’s core hypothesis is that when you compare Microsoft to Google and Apple (the “big three”), Microsoft is perceived as outdated, slow, corporate, conservative, while its only positive brand assets are its gaming (XBox) and Kinect. Compare this to Apple’s brand that is centered on design and engineering, and Google’s that is focused on the search engine and “don’t be evil”.

From a visual design perspective, he addressed this gap by taking the “traditional” old school, antiquated view of a (four paned) window and looked at it through a different lens. He thought about it through a more hip, urban perspective and visualized how people look at windows on an angle while looking at a skyscraper from the ground and used that as the core element of the “new” brand concept.

Hit this concept up against the generally bland, Finland flag like new Windows logo and it is definitely a fresh perspective on where Microsoft/Windows could go.

The other day while at a local mall, I was surprised to see the Microsoft Store had opened up. And the thing that completely dominated the experience was the gaming consoles – XBox, Kinect, etc. The PC’s, phones and peripherals that Microsoft “owns” were taking up space in the store and were complete afterthoughts to the customers. To me, that spoke volumes.

via Waxy Links.

Your Logo or Mine?

A neat project where Stefan Asafti over at Behance used competitor logos to render each other’s brands.

There have always existed disputes among the competing parties, divergent opinions, while the fans of each brand were convinced that theirs was the best product. Last, but not least, the rivals have even conducted ad campaigns against the competing brands. This project mostly approaches the visual “conversations” between the company logos and the ways that they influence each other, hence the name of the project, Brandversations. It is a parallel between the modern and the old, some of the slogans dating back to the 40s and 50s.

Yes, I am a heretic for displaying the one above. :)

via Logo Design Love

Flash Forward

Here is a really interesting take on Apple’s recent war on Adobe and their Flash platform by Charlie Stoss (whom I’m not at all familiar with, but has written a nice piece here). His basic take is that the PC industry is in a death spiral (true), wireless broadband and the reality of SAAS/Cloud computing is here, and the companies that will be relevant in this new world order will be the ones that are able to control the delivery (sales) channel and sell the applications/software. In order for Apple to be relevant today and in the future, they can not afford to support a cross platform solution like Flash.

Apple are trying desperately to force the growth of a new ecosystem one that rivals the 26-year-old Macintosh environment to maturity in five years flat. That’s the time scale in which they expect the cloud computing revolution to flatten the existing PC industry. Unless they can turn themselves into an entirely different kind of corporation by 2015 Apple is doomed to the same irrelevance as the rest of the PC industry” interchangeable suppliers of commodity equipment assembled on a shoestring budget with negligible profit.

There is a massive steel cage death match going on in the tech world between Apple, Google, along with HP (now that it has Palm OS) and Microsoft. Microsoft’s head is so “in the clouds” they are rapidly becoming the Sears of the technology world and on the fast track to being “Walmarted” by Google. They won’t know what hit them until its too late (if that has not happened already). From its very early years Apple has always been one to have tight controls over its ecosystem and we are starting to see Apple’s transformation from a PC maker to a platform developer. They acquired Lala recently and just today, I received an email from them saying that they will be shutting their doors. Why shut such a great service? So Apple can seamlessly integrate it into iTunes, put all your music on the cloud, and turning a desktop app into software as a service that Apple can use to charge a monthly/annual fee. Take this model and scale it to everything Apple does. This is where it is going. With all the rapid changes taking place around media, data, technology and how people consumer information, it will be very interesting to see how this all nets out. The big wildcard in all of this? Google and its Android/Chrome OS.

Posted via email from Stephen’s Posterous

You’ve Got Micro-mail

Here’s an interesting rumor. AOL execs are pursuing merger talks with Microsoft. What an amazing turn of events this would be for Microsoft…to go from courting Yahoo to being courted by AOL.

Now AOL is not anything close to what it used to be. Its transformation into an advertising supported business appears to be flat-lining. Its one “800 lb gorilla” – AOL Instant Messenger appears to have lost about 400 of those pounds with new social networking services like Twitter, Plurk, et al.

Could be an interesting combo. More to come.

No Need For MS Office

Is it getting hot out in Redmond? Is the collar feeling a little tight? OK, so lets not get too carried away…Microsoft is still an immense power in the business, computer and software worlds and they are not going anywhere. In fact, I fully expect them to observe the market, make adjustments, and then come roaring forward to protect their core software businesses including MS Office (exactly what they did with Netscape).

But it is immensely interesting to observe the online marketplace these days and all the amazing web based products and innovation, taking dead aim at Microsoft’s cash cow desktop applications. And I know this is nothing new, as several of these apps have been out in the marketplace for a while now, and they have been written about often.

The item that motivated me to write this post is Gilffy, which is a neat browser based version of MS Visio. So in addition to this, you have Google’s Spreadsheet, Calendar and Gmail, all of Yahoo’s similar services, 30Boxes (Calendar), Writely (and all the other Web based word processing apps), Basecamp from 37 Signals, and Thumbstacks, and Eric Meyer’s S5 slideshow apps, to name a few. You are all set. No need to buy a $500 piece of software in a box full of air.

The only concern is that by using all these web based apps, all your information would be housed on someone else’s server/computer. But most to all of the aforementioned apps give you the ability to download local copies, so that should not be a big issue.

Its quite an interesting time to be a consumer and to be in Redmond. :-) I’ll be interested to see Google and Yahoo’s next steps.

They Get Smaller and Smaller…

Check out this little widgit from Paul Allen’s Vulcan Ventures. Its a mini computer called FlipStart that fits in the palm of your hand. Its a hybrid between a PDA with a querty-style keyboard and a small laptop. It seems to be very well designed and pretty slick. I am sure Microsoft has their paws all over this and will probably get the first crack at marketing it. And then Dell will create something similar and blow the market out of the water.

What?!? A Buggy Microsoft App?

I find it utterly hysterical and ironic that for some strange reason, I can not log onto Microsoft’s Hotmail, via their “wonderful” Passport authentication system, from the version of Internet Explorer that is on my computer, yet I can successfully log on when using Netscape. My Hotmail account is a spam account anyway, and I rarely use it for anything but signing up for sites I have limited interest in, so its not a big deal. But it is humorous none the less.