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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 on 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 He thinks that the technology behemoth's branding is outdated—simply too conservative for digital natives. That is why the Pasadena, 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 company makeover 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 next generation will negotiate design challenges like skeuomorphics.

Instantly, you can see that Kim's brand unification strategy is clean, fresh, and updated. It's a simplification that breathes new life into a tired branding scenario. It is using the past to inform its choices, but it is not stuck in the past.

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

Experience Kim's brilliant corporate redesign here.

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