Microsoft brand strategy / positioning case study

Brand essence

Empowering people and organisations to achieve more.

Brand values

Innovation, achievement, empowerment.

Brand character

Powerful, confident, reliable, for everybody, corporate.

Dominating archetype

Microsoft is perceived as the behemoth of the tech industry – partially because of its actual size, partially as a result of its previous positioning and messaging. Microsoft for many years had been a textbook example of a brand based on the Ruler archetype, communicating its leadership, power and ubiquity. This legacy is still very strong; however, the company’s brand and communications strategy has changed noticeably since the appointment of Satya Nadella as the new CEO in 2014.


In 2015, Microsoft introduced a new mission statement, “Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more”[1] to give a sense of unity to its separate business entities. The new mission has strong elements of the Hero archetype: empowerment and achievement which are in particular apparent in the company’s more recent communication, focusing on how people can be more productive and achieve more with Microsoft products (e.g., “The New Surface Pro 6 And Adam Wilson” ad[2] and #DoMore brand activation on Instagram[3]).


For many years, Microsoft had been known for its product-centred communication. It rarely promoted its master-brand and was more concerned with explaining the features of its advertised products. Now, it focuses on consumer benefits and brand-building activities instead. The company declares that it is putting a stronger emphasis on emotional communication and concentrating less on product features. Kathleen Hall, VP, Brand Advertising and Media at Microsoft told Marketing Week: “We used to fall in love with our own stuff sometimes and talk about features without talking about what it means to people and that is a lesson that we have learned. (…) You can expect a more emotional approach and to be about our consumers and what they do with our products and not about us and the shiny things we make.[4]


Microsoft has also changed its tone of voice – from a serious, corporate language often filled with jargon, to a tone of voice that is closer to that applied by Google: warmer and more human. However, the company has not given up on the corporate wording completely, one example being Microsoft Dynamics: “Microsoft Dynamics business solutions energize and empower customer engagement with real-time information and collaboration. (…) technology plays an important role and enables individuals to drive their vision while also helping organisations to manage their end-to-end business processes.[5]


Unlike Google, which decided to launch a house of brands architecture under the Alphabet corporate brand, Microsoft wants to focus on strengthening the overarching Microsoft brand and move its products closer to it. Microsoft believes that the fact, that people don’t associate some famous products with Microsoft, is a problem that needs to be solved. Tim O’Brien, former General Manager of Global Communications at Microsoft’ in the interview with Communicate shared his concerns: “There is a community of people that are rabid about Xbox or Skype but they don’t understand that they’re Microsoft. That’s a bigger issue.[6]

Most important campaigns

1. “NBA CourtOptix Powered By Microsoft Azure” (2022)

2. “Microsoft Super Bowl 2020 Commercial: Be The One / Katie Sowers” (2020)

3. “Teacher Toney Jackson Brings Creativity to the Classroom with Windows 10″ (2017)

4. “We are all creators” (2016)

5. Microsoft Devices “Do Great Things” (2015)

6. “Don’t Get Scroogled By Microsoft” (2013)


Official brand statement:

We believe in what people make possible. Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.[7]

Interesting facts:

Between 2012 and 2014 Microsoft ran a campaign attacking Google products (Gmail, Android, Chromebook etc.[8]). The campaign was called “Scroogled”[9] – its URL: is still active and redirects people to[10]


1. CNBC on Microsoft’s partnership with Netflix
J. Bursztynsky, “Netflix Partners With Microsoft On Ad-Supported Subscription Plan”, CBNC, Jul 2022, 

2. Chris Caposella, Microsoft’s CMO explains Microsoft’s brand strategy
C. Caposella, “Microsoft”, Interbrand Best Global Brands 2018, Oct 2018,

3. Forbes on changes in Microsoft’s strategy
M. Lopez, “7 Reasons To Give Microsoft’s Strategy Another Look”, Forbes, Apr 2016,

4. Interview with Tim O’Brien, former General Manager of Global Communications about the evolution of Microsoft’s brand strategy
“The Evolution of Microsoft’s Brand Strategy”, Communicate, Nov 2015,



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