Over the past couple of years, software giant Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) has been doing something interesting: innovating.

It started with its Windows Phone operating system, discarding the legacy of Windows Mobile in favor of a new, innovative interface and design philosophy that the company dubbed "Metro." The interface was modern and sleek, and eventually had to be renamed, after a trademark spat with European retailer Metro Group. Regardless of what you call it, the interface is unarguably innovative.

This design style began to permeate throughout Microsoft’s product lines, as the company rebranded its core offerings. In February, Mr. Softy unveiled a new simpler, cleaner logo for Windows 8 in the same vein, similarly using flat shapes and solid colors.


Source: Official Windows Team Blog.

Then, Microsoft gave its other cash cow, Office, a similar logo makeover.


Source: Microsoft.

These branding changes have now culminated in Microsoft giving the entire company a new logo -- the first time the iconic bellwether has done so in 25 years since 1987. That was just a year after Microsoft went public in 1986, when the company took on its now-familiar logo, donning the same look for a quarter century.


Old Microsoft logo (top) vs. new Microsoft logo (bottom). Source: Microsoft.

In an interview with The Seattle Times, general manager of brand strategy Jeff Hansen said the move is meant to "signal the heritage but also signal the future -- a newness and freshness." Considering the bold direction the company is trying to take with Windows 8, Hansen added that Microsoft "felt it was a good time" for the redesign.

It might seem like a minor change, but branding is an important aspect of how a company communicates with consumers and the broader public. In a report a few months back, from brand consultancy Millward Brown, Microsoft’s brand value lagged several of its tech peers, including Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), IBM (NYSE: IBM), and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG).

2012 Rank Company 2012 Brand Value
1 Apple $182.95 billion
2 IBM $115.99 billion
3 Google $107.86 billion
5 Microsoft $76.65 billion
Source: Millward Brown (May 2012).

In an official blog post, Hansen expressed that the new logo also signifies the "era in which [Microsoft is] reimagining" its products. However, there’s still one thing left to do that would fully revitalize the underappreciated software giant, one that would truly signal the next era of Microsoft innovation: ditching Steve Ballmer.

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