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Perception is Reality

If seeing is believing, what does Microsoft's corporate branding—its logo, visual identity, and industrial design—tell us?

Just one look at the newest Windows icon tells me that it's tired. Too tired. I cannot help but connect Microsoft with slower machines and slower progress in complicated yet lifeless environments. Apple is certainly not the panacea (and don't get me started about their shady labor practices) but there is a reason that Apple's iPhone business alone is now larger than all of Microsoft.

Andrew Kim, a 21-year-old designer, agrees that Microsoft needs a makeover. He says that the technology behemoth's branding is outdated—simply too conservative for digital natives. That is why thePasadena, CA-based Art Center College of Design student recently re-imagined the company’s brand identity during a three-day design charrette. The result, "The Next Microsoft," is a compelling redesign of the company for the tablet generation.

What this insightful experiment reveals is how the user perspective can be an x factor in technology adoption. The fact that a 21-year old student has re-imagined the Microsoft brand so much more effectively than Microsoft itself previews how the younger generation treats design issues like skeuomorphics.

Instantly, you can see that Kim's brand unification strategy (for Surface, Windows, Office) is clean, fresh, and updated. It's a simplification that breathes new life into a tired branding scenario. The "slate" is using the past to inform design choices but it is not stuck in the past.

I challenge AV manufacturers to explore the "The New Microsoft." How are you evolving to communicate all that you are—your roots, mission statement, and corporate aspirations?

Experience Kim's brilliant company redesign.

Read more here about the world's reaction to "The Next Microsoft."

Margot Douaihy is the editor of AV Technology Magazine, a college instructor, and an advocate for user-friendly design.

Margot Douaihy, Ph.D.

Margot Douaihy, Ph.D. is a freelance AV storyteller and educator. She is currently editor-at-large for AV Technology Magazine where she provides analysis and insights, and facilitates discussions at live events. Douaihy is a featured speaker at many events, including the AV/IT Summit, where she dives into new paradigms and products making a difference in the ever-evolving AV industry.