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What's Wrong with Microsoft's New Logo and How to Avoid the Same Mistakes

Tips from a graphic designer on how to create great company logos.
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Tech giant Microsoft has revamped its corporate logo for the first time in 25 years. The new design was unveiled this week and has received a range of criticism online. Some describe the new logo as clean and simple, while others are calling it an outright failure.

Replacing the previous logo's italic bold type, Microsoft says the font used in the new logo is called "Segoe," the same one it uses for all its products and marketing. The symbol of the four colored squares is similar to the logo used on its Windows operating system.

Among those who think Microsoft's new logo leaves a lot to be desired is longtime graphic designer John Williams, founder of Nashville, Tenn.-based do-it-yourself logo-creation website Here, Williams explains how he thinks Microsoft dropped the ball with its new design and offers advice on how the rest of us can create better company logos

Related: The Logo Mishaps of Giant Brands 

Pick a font that fits your design.
If your idea for a killer company logo involves a bold font, Williams suggests keeping the letters close together. Graphic designers call this "tight kerning." If you're after a more elegant-looking font, he suggests going with one that's thin, tall and has serifs (letters that end in strokes or tails), and space the letters further apart.

Microsoft got its font design wrong in two ways, Williams says. First, there's too much space between the thick letters. Second, the spacing is inconsistent. "Suddenly they jam the last two letters, the 'f' and the 't', together so they are literally touching -- the opposite of what they did in the rest of the name," he says.

Pick a symbol that looks great even when printed in black and white.

When picking the colors for your company's logo, keep in mind how it might appear when printed in all types of formats. "You want your brand to show up clear and sharp even when someone prints your color PDF on a monochrome printer," Williams says.

The shades of red, blue, yellow and green in Microsoft's new logo might look like "grey splotches" when copied in black and white, according to Williams. Additionally, the logo is symmetrical and some might find it boring to look at. "Make your symbol slightly off-center," he says. "Even if your logo is a simple, classic shape, do something to add a dash of pizazz."

Related: How to Stand Out by Keeping it Simple

Make sure your font and symbol are a good match.
Both logo elements should be consistent. Microsoft's are mismatched, Williams says.

"Microsoft's new square symbol is cold and emotionless. The font, however, is nice because its roundness gives it a warm, inviting feel," he says. "You want a symbol and a font that have similar 'personalities,' so they go together well."

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