SEATTLE -- For the first time in 25 years, Microsoft Corp. is changing its corporate logo.
Microsoft, which has used its solid, boldfaced, italicized logo since 1987, unveiled its new, more colorful logo Thursday. The new logo, which incorporates a multicolored Windows symbol in addition to the "Microsoft" name in straightforward, lighter type, is intended to "signal the heritage but also signal the future -- a newness and freshness," said Jeff Hansen, Microsoft's general manager of brand strategy.
It's coming at a time when the computer software giant is preparing to launch new or significantly updated versions of nearly every one of its products, from Windows to Windows Phone to Office.
Many of those products will feature a new look with fewer borders, less clutter, and more colorful tile-based designs.
Given all that, "we felt it was a good time to express the newness in the Microsoft logo as well," he said.
The new logo features the name "Microsoft" in the Segoe font -- a font Microsoft owns and has used in its products and marketing for several years. The font also figures prominently in the new Windows 8 user interface.
For the first time, the company's logo will include a symbol: In this case, a square formed by four multicolored square tiles -- reminiscent of the company's multihued Windows logo in years past. (Ironically, Windows 8's new logo is now single-colored.)
The colors in the squares -- blue, orange, green, and yellow -- are those long associated with Microsoft.
The colors are also meant to convey "the diversity of our products and the diversity of people that we serve," Mr. Hansen said.
A lot is at stake when a company changes its logo.
A logo is the instant communication of a brand, said Barbara Kahn, professor of marketing at the Wharton school of the University of Pennsylvania. "It's what is seen time and time again," she said.
A strong logo, she said, needs to be "distinctive, clearly identified with the brand, and consistently used over time."
The new logo marks the fifth time Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft has changed it since the company was founded in 1975.