Interview: Neowin talks to the organizers of the Windows 8 logo contest

Last week, Microsoft officially revealed their pick for the logo that will be used to market Windows 8. It was a fairly radical change, compared to previous Windows logos, and the response so far has been polarizing to some extent. This week, just for fun (and definitely not endorsed by Microsoft) a company called Archon Systems, working with 99designs, launched a Windows 8 logo contest in association with Archon's software product inFlow Inventory. The contest let the outside world create their own Windows 8 logo concepts. The winner of the contest doesn't just get bragging rights but a $300 cash prize.

We got a chance to ask some questions to Matthew Kostanecki, the Online Marketing Specialist for inFlow Inventory's parent Archon Systems, about the Windows 8 logo contest, what he thinks of Microsoft's official Windows 8 logo and more. He also reveals a second cash prize for the contest.

First, tell us about Archon Systems and inFlow Inventory. What are you guys about?

Most business software is expensive, complicated and quite frankly- boring! Our company, Archon Systems Inc. (www.archonsystems.com) wants to do better. With an obsession for design and functionality, we launched inFlow Inventory (www.inflowinventory.com) in 2007. Since then, the software has grown to be used by over 317 988 small businesses around the world!

The software tracks and manages inventory, generates reports and creates business documents so business owners can get organized, stay knowledgeable and look professional.  All of this, in a simple and intuitive interface so users can be productive right away without wasting time going through a manual. Nobody like manuals, right?

We want people to love working with their business and be happy to manage their inventory while using inFlow. You can read more about  our philosophy here: http://www.inflowinventory.com/software-about-us.aspx

We’re also excited to be launching a new project that’s aimed at changing the traditional way of doing supply chain management.

How did the idea come out to launch a contest to get others to come up with a redesign of the Windows 8 logo?

The company culture at Archon Systems Inc. is very much design-centric. Mixing that culture with very passionate and opinionated employees, and you get quite a discussion when Microsoft decides to make the biggest change to their logo in 10+ years.

I figured that we’re probably not alone in our opinions, and sure enough we weren’t. We found many other people commenting on other blogs posts who claimed they could design a better logo. We thought, let’s put them to the test and actually give them an opportunity to practice what they were preaching!

How did you get 99designs to agree to hold the contest?

I’ve used 99designs in the past so they were top of mind when I was looking to do something like this. I was told that we could run it so long as the contest was a clear parody and we included a disclaimer informing viewers that we were not in any way affiliated with Microsoft.  They also made it clear the contest would be taken down upon request by Microsoft.

So far are you impressed with the designs that have come in from people who have entered the contest?

The creativity has been fantastic! Of course some designs stand out better than others with some being parodies.  I have done my best to leave some feedback on each and every single entry.

Some favorites so far include #176 #142, #124 and #60. Also like the concept behind #173 and the bold colors on #127 and #108.

Some of the parodies are entertaining with my personal favourite going to Bill Gates in a stained glass window, #77. Honorable mentions go to the Apple design #75, Vista 2 #277 and Windows with curtains #263.

After the contest closes, we will be creating a public poll to get all users to vote for the favorites and award the $300 prize.

There was certainly a lot of people discussing the new Windows 8 logo when it was released last week. What is your personal opinion about the logo?

Let me preface this by saying I don’t claim to be a designer by any means. I primarily take care of the marketing for our company. Having said that, great marketing comes with having a keen eye for what will resonate with people and what will not. Very often, this includes having a sense for design.

Personally I think the new logo is a step in the right direction. It still looks like a window so I don’t believe they are “throwing away” their brand identity as some people have mentioned. The slant gives it depth and almost an “interactive” feel to it. Nobody seems to “love windows” but they may just “love” the Metro interface. So, overall, I believe making the Metro UI apart of the logo while still being true to the Windows brand was a good strategic move on Microsoft’s part.

It’s not perfect by any means and could use some refinement. As many people have pointed out, the thickness of the white bars should change with the slanted perspective. I think the original design that Petagram did was much better than the one Microsoft published on their blog (as pointed out by Long Zheng and Graham Smith).


In your opinion, how important is a well designed logo for the marketing of a product like a PC operating system. Does it really make much of a different in the end what the logo looks like?

A logo is important for any brand, regardless of industry. People don’t typically remember company names or descriptions as easily as they can remember an image. Since first impressions can be last impressions, it’s imperative that that a logo is distinguishable and can convey what the company is about.

What’s even more important is the promise behind the logo. The new logo obviously will not make or break Windows 8. It’s the promise of the functionality and usability of the Metro UI that will determine its success.

On another note, we had the opportunity to test inFlow Inventory on both a tablet and desktop running a developers preview of Windows 8 and it worked better then expected! We are very excited to see how the final version of Windows 8 unfolds.

Have you heard anything from Microsoft about the contest?

Not yet.  It would be fun to ask Mr. Ballmer which one he thought was best (besides the one designed by Pentagram, of course) Or, ask Mr. Gates what the thought of himself as a part of the stained glass logo. Does anyone have their direct line? :)

Finally is there anything else you wish to say about the Windows 8 logo contest and do you guys have plans to hold a similar contest in the future?

After the contest closes, we will pick the top entries (judged by the Archon Systems Inc. team) and create a poll to choose a winner. The poll will be posted on an upcoming post on the inFlow Inventory Blog and announced on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/inFlowInventory) and twitter stream. (https://twitter.com/#!/inflowinventory)  The winner of the poll will receive the $300 contest prize.

We will also create a separate poll for the humorous entries and award the winner $150. We felt we just had to include those entries some how!

It’s hard to say if we will do something like this again in the future, but we’re always up to interesting things. If you want to learn more about our company, please check out our company thinking page (http://www.archonsystems.com/thinking.html) and if you are a developer, stay in touch by following our dev blog (http://www.archonsystems.com/devblog/).

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