New Logo Designs for eBay and Microsoft: Simple or Boring?

Whenever an iconic brand updates its logo, there's bound to be some backlash from the public. (Remember that Gap logo redesign debacle a few years ago?) For the most part, however, designers —myself included — love it when a brand takes that leap of faith and shakes up their visual identity. But the new logo designs for eBay and Microsoft have my designer brain pondering the forbidden question: "is there such a thing as too simple" when it comes to logo design?

You see, purest logo designers pride themselves on storytelling by reducing complex ideas to their most simple and symbolic form. Any extraneous elements are simply decoration getting in the way of the real message. According to that school of thought, the new logo designs for Microsoft and eBay are fabulous: a simplified version 2.0 of their former counterpoint. Normally I'd agree, but in these two instances I call bullshit. Let's review:

  • Old eBay Logo: Quirky typeface, but neat-o transparency in the letterforms with a mix of font sizes.
  • New eBay Logo: Helvetica-like font.
  • Old Microsoft Logo: Sense of motion in window icon that follows through to typeface. Identifiable mark between "o" and "s."
  • New Microsoft Logo: Square icons next to Myriad-like font. (Um, isn't that Apple's typeface?!)

Now I'm not saying I was in love with the old logo designs (it was definitely time for an update), but these options are just about as personality-less as they come. At first, you may think the design firms, who undoubtedly got paid thousands (if not millions) of dollars, were simply lazy with their lack of creativity. What's more likely is that a team of marketers on the client side got together and reduced all of the design options down to these generic versions. Sad.