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Trend Watch: The Rise of the “Friendly” Logo

With all the virtual chit chat about Myspace’s second (third?) coming thanks to a new look and possibly a new logo, we got to thinking about a recent — dare we say disappointing — trend in the big business of branding. Myspace isn’t the only identity grappling with the reality of a brave new iWorld dominated by Facebook and its burgeoning entourage of enterprising social spaces. Everyone from Microsoft to eBay to Domino’s Pizza is feeling the need for a digital era makeover. The ubiquitous look: simple sans serifs in a pared back, “friendly” style. We’re all for simplicity, but why does simple and friendly have to mean flat, boring, and uninspired? Why the pursuit of friendly in a digital world?

Maybe the answer’s an obvious one. After all, every online thesaurus lists friendly as the number one synonym for social, the undisputed buzzword and ultimate objective of every brand on the planet. Click through to check out a handful of logos making headlines today as we take a look at why we think the rise of “friendly” design is more complicated than a simple synonym.

Microsoft


Image credit: Microsoft via Phaidon

There’s been a lot of speculation as to who designed Microsoft’s new logo. Some say it’s design superfirm Pentagram. Others think it might be Microsoft’s in-house creative team. We’d be more forgiving to know that Pentagram didn’t have anything to do with what we think is an amateur attempt at a streamlined, back-to-basics (Apple-fied?) identity.

According to the press release, they’re focused on what they like to call “a Metro design, which includes modest colors, sans serif text, and user interface elements.” Commenting on the evolution, they state that they wanted to get rid of the “bold, aggressive, italicized identity of old. In its place is a far lighter, far more approachable logotype in an inoffensive grey, complete with four colored blocks in orange, green, blue, and yellow.”

Simple and inviting might be the goal, but where’s the personality? It’s smart to take cues from the most iconic brand in the world, but one of the things that landed them there is the unique personification of a friendly fruit that just so happens to share the brand’s name. It’s smart, clever, and charming. Three attributes that — unfortunately — four colored squares don’t share.

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