Find a laptop and flip the lid open. Which way up is the logo on the back? On pretty much any laptop on the market today, including ThinkPads, the logo will be the “right way up”.
The logo is oriented this way so that anyone looking at an open laptop from the back will see the logo properly. However, if you look at pre-2013 ThinkPads, you’ll see that the logo is upside down when the lid is open. I think the ThinkPad logo should be this way and not follow everyone else. Why?
“It’s such a small detail,” you might say. “Why does it matter?”
Let’s first answer why the orientation was changed. Brooks Flynn, Lenovo’s worldwide segment manager, explains:
“Traditionally, we always had the logos face the user,” Flynn explained. “The idea was that it was your personal system. But when it’s up, it obviously doesn’t communicate the brand. We weren’t actually planning on changing that until in the user survey, the next-genners kept asking, ‘Why is the logo upside-down?'”
To summarize, it was changed because the newer users didn’t understand why it was like that. It makes me wonder who Lenovo got to fill out the survey because it might have been a driving factor for some of the other unwanted changes, but I digress.
As Flynn states, the idea behind having the logo upside down when the lid is open is that it is “your personal system”.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t really care how the logo is oriented when the laptop is open because I don’t get to see it. What I do care about, though, is its orientation when the laptop is closed because I do get to see that. Have you ever tried to open a laptop only to find you were trying to open it from the hinge side? You had probably subconsciously oriented the laptop so that the logo the right way up. This happens to me way too often on MacBooks and other laptops with the same logo orientation even though I know that the logo’s top should be near me, and every time this happens I scream inside because thinking about how to open the laptop is not something I should have to do. An upside down logo is also not very inviting, maybe even deterring. It’s one less way that the laptop is my personal computer.
In contrast, a logo that faces me when the lid is closed is much more inviting. It communicates to me that the machine was made for me and is ready for me to use it. I can also let my subconscious do the work of orienting the laptop to open it just by looking at the logo.
David Hill, the lead ThinkPad designer at Lenovo, had offered the idea of a Retro ThinkPad last year and released four surveys asking us what we would like to see. One of the questions was about the logo orientation. It’s a small detail, but one that’s important enough to get a question on the survey. Unfortunately, the results for this question were not released.
I don’t care what other manufacturers do, but Lenovo, for at least the Retro ThinkPad, should have the logo face me as I open the laptop because the ThinkPad is my personal system.