May Nuggets - retro pixels

Microsoft Word used to have a funky logo? It's true..

Ok it was mainly pixels, but it was definitely more interesting than their recent iterations.

I love looking at how brands evolve over the years, and since the logo is often the centrepiece of a brand, the logo iterations are a perfect insight into what that brand was doing at that point in time. So when I stumbled across the original Word logo/icon, with it's sans serif 'W', and neon colors, I wanted to share it here.


Ok so the very first logo wasn't colorful, but it had some character. The bold text is striking and the underline hints at the tool. The decorated 'o' is also right in the middle of Microsoft, which adds a nice focal point. As the very first iteration, it was probably important to say what it actually does too, which explains the (what seems to us now) super obvious byline.


This is when the magic starts. The 3D 'W' os so bold, and they introduce the document motif which acts as the visual descriptor to tell people what it is the logo is representing. The logo also acts as the desktop icon, so it was important for it to stand out and be easy to recognise/understand at a glance.

That yellow and purple combo is so bold, but not something you see often today. It isn't a color combo I'd automatically associate with a 'serious' word processing tool, but to fit in with all of the other icons it was next to, this was appropriate.


1991 is a little more toned down, and feels much more fitting for a word processing tool, but it is still pretty bold and full of character.


1993 really changes it up. They went from the standard flat doc to a magic carpet doc?! Sticking with the blues (although still not the shades we know today), this iteration feels a little like a blip, because they go back to the flat doc for the next iteration. But here they introduce the serif 'W', which stays around for a long time.

It's also a W riding a magic document carpet which is super memorable, and would be recognisable if they stuck with it.


Back to the flat doc, but the 'W' is a more refined serif, closer to what we recognise from more recent iterations.

1999 - now

Between 1999 and now, the icon/logo didn't drastically change, it stays blue and boxy, sometimes with a doc and sometimes not. The styling had to change each time to match with the interface updates as each new Word version was released. In 2013 they got rid of the serif 'W' for a simple sans serif version. It's not quite as fun as the early iterations, but it does make sense for a word processing icon. Maybe one day they'll go back to the magic carpet, but it'll probably still be blue.

Source: Logopedia