What happened to Hotmail?

Posted on June 4, 2010


hotmail logosHotmail used to be one of the most powerful brand in the world. It used to be at the forefront of online communication. Early 90’s we all went there to get a personal email address like we all get a Facebook account today. We all got one.
But in all honesty, who really desires to have an hotmail email address today? It claims to have 380 millions registered users but most of them are now either secondary email addresses we use for admin purpose or a must have to be able to enjoy MSN Messenger. Gmail and Yahoo! have taken over that role of leading free email provider.

The history of the Hotmail logo - no clear strategy

Few months ago, Hotmail has been re launched with a new skin. Unless I missed something, the functionalities are identical to others and this video presentation less than inspiring… Note the computarized voice to give a bit of fake modernity into the brand positioning. It reminds me the futuristic TV shows in the 80’s.

What happened?

What happened happened to all brands that are taking their leading position for granted. Hotmail went into hibernation for over 10 years, stayed in their comfort zone and now find it hard to catch-up. The regular changes of name, logo and visual identity over the past 15 years shows Hotmail is probably not sure of its own positioning and what it really stands for.

Internet (and technology as a matter of fact) is evolving so fast that what was right a year ago is not anymore today or at least is being challenged.
Hotmail is a one dimension product. The future is all into multi dimensional products. MobileMe, Google, Facebook etc. are all offering multi dimensional experiences where from one platform you have access to integrated products all functioning together. Microsoft could claim to have a multi dimensional offer by putting Windows Live, MSN, Hotmail, Bing, Outlook etc. next to each other, but do they really work together?

Is there really an integrated branding strategy behind all of this?

Or am I missing something?

Fabrice Burtin – June 2010