© 2018 Stephen Lloyd | Seattle, WA. All Rights Reserved.

Microsoft

Situation

Microsoft went through a major brand overhaul with the goal to make the creative more inclusive especially for customers who are color blind or have low vision. This tightened up the color palette and font selection which meant the templates my team worked from needed an overhaul as well. One of our cornerstone newsletters is for Microsoft Rewards which is sent out to millions of customers around the world each month.  

Task

My team alone sent about two billion newsletters last year so these new templates needed to be robust while still adhering to the new guidelines. Our marketers in the field were used to having a wide variety of styles and colors to choose from with the old brand so I needed to still give them flexibility when writing engaging content but within a much tighter scope. No more center-justified copy. No more Segoe Light or Bold. Left-justified, 1.618 font size ratio, two fonts (Segoe Regular and Segoe Semibold), and a maximum selection of 30 colors; 9 of which are grayscale. The design also needed to be dynamically optimized across desktop, tablet, and mobile.

Action

I spent several hours on conference calls with the brand team going over the new guidelines dialing in exactly how far I could stretch the boundaries while still staying on brand. Then I tossed out my old toolkit and started fresh. I set up a grid and got the main components for this newsletter laid out. I needed the hero image and main messaging above the fold like the previous creative because this allowed our customers to quickly earn +30 Microsoft Rewards points they were used to. Then I needed to drastically simplify the content below the fold compared to previous newsletters we had sent out. Before it was a mix of photography, icons, and skeuomorphism which an outside agency created and we had revolved around. With the opportunity to clear the slate, I kept the design as clean and straight forward as possible. Way easier for our customers to get their points more quickly.

Result

The best way I can describe the way our customers felt when they got these rebranded newsletters was relief. We knew customers interacted with our Microsoft Rewards newsletters because they wanted the most points as fast as possible. By utilizing the new brand and cutting the clutter, they had a smoother user experience and got to the important stuff with ease.