Microsoft Branding Toolkit for Internal Communications Only
I’m often asked what’s the best way to get hold of Microsoft logos and icons. People like to include these graphic I’m often asked what’s the best way to get hold of Microsoft logos and icons. People like to include these graphic elements in training material, presentations, and internal web sites. One way of finding a suitable image is to search microsoft.com to find images used in their documentation. Another way is to grab a screen capture from a Microsoft video (which is how I got the Microsoft Loop logo used in this blog post). Although it might take some searching, you can usually find a suitable illustration to meet your needs.
However, an easier way exists if you’re a Microsoft 365 customer. Microsoft Fasttrack is a program dedicated to helping customers use Microsoft 365. You can sign into the Fasttrack portal with your Microsoft 365 account to access different tools to help with planning, migration, and adoption. The Resources section of the portal allows access to different tools, one of which is the Branding toolkit (Figure 1).
Licensing and Guidelines
Choosing the branding toolkit downloads a ZIP file. Inside the ZIP is a folder called Microsoft Office App Icons and a PDF file describing the conditions under which Microsoft allows the use of the Microsoft 365 and Office graphics. For instance, you can’t use Office icons in any way that damages Microsoft’s reputation or to imply their endorsement of a third-party service or product. Essentially, Microsoft makes the graphics available in the branding kit for internal communications distributed to the licensee’s employees (the licensee is defined as the customer using the kit) to “increase the customer’s internal adoption and usage of Microsoft products and services.”. In addition, Microsoft expects that its icons and logos are used properly in line with Microsoft branding guidelines. You might think that Microsoft is a tad picky, but they are serious about people using their material to support their brand image instead of random insertions of Office icons in documents and presentations.
Inside the Folders
The Microsoft Office App Icons folder holds a bunch of other folders, each containing the icons for a separate product, like Exchange, Microsoft Lens, OneDrive, and Planner. Inside a product folder you’ll find full-color and monochrome (positive and negative) versions of its icons in PNG and PDF formats. The PNG files cover different icon sizes varying from 48×48 (pixels) to 256×256. Figure 2 shows the monochrome positive files available for Exchange with the 128×128 PNG file displayed in the Windows photo viewer.
Microsoft’s license included with the branding kit allows for internal use. External usage is not covered by the agreement. Does this mean that Microsoft will be upset if you use their graphics in public-facing activities, such as presentations given at conferences or blog posts? The fact is that Microsoft does not license people to use files contained in the branding toolkit for these purposes. However, given that Office icons and graphics can be found elsewhere, it’s reasonable to assume that Microsoft won’t object to their use unless a flagrant violation of their branding guidelines occurs. In other words, using the SharePoint or OneDrive logo to illustrate a blog post is unlikely to cause a problem.
Like any other company, Microsoft has limited resources to dedicate to chasing down trademark or other infringements of their intellectual property. For instance, I often see people incorporate a Microsoft icon in the opening titles of a YouTube video. Even if the graphics aren’t very professional and don’t match any of their branding guidelines, the sheer number of these types of videos mean that Microsoft probably won’t seek action unless the treatment of the icon is such that people watching a video might conclude that Microsoft endorses the content.
However, I’m not a Microsoft lawyer and I cannot offer any advice about how any individual could use Microsoft icons in external communications. Overall, it’s best to make sure that if you download the Fasttrack branding toolkit, you should follow Microsoft’s usage rules to avoid any trouble. As the old saying goes, “You can’t fight City Hall.”
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