Does Google’s new logo match what it’s really about?
Refrigerator magnets… a toy company… Lifesavers®… a children’s book… crayons… Easter eggs… more like “Gymboree®”… the insults came hurdling like daggers from all directions against Google’s logo redesign last week. Of course, many in the design community found the rework refreshing—even cool. But a quick Google search (oh, the irony) showed the scales tipped predominately toward the sour.
When a company changes its logo these days, it has to brace itself for the inevitable onslaught. A lot of people just don’t like change, and they turn up the hate just for that reason. Others fancy themselves graphic designers, or have an opinion about EVERYTHING and, thanks to social media, have a billion megaphones to voice it.
Since Citizens United declared corporations people in 2010, I imagine Google crouching in a corner of some hipster office somewhere, pouting a little.
This logo evolution is the biggest yet for the search engine titan, at least for the past 16+ years or so. The mark has changed color sequence, fonts (back in the 1990s, it was Baskerville… a tidbit for you font geeks), and the shadow under the letters vanished in 2010. But this recent change was much more striking. Google has actually created a brand identity for itself. Here are some highlights:
- The famous Google colors—blue, red, yellow, blue, green, red—are now toned down a bit but in the same sequence.
- The serifs (the little “tails” on the tops and bottoms of the letters) have vanished, and the new sans serif font (called Product Sans) is simple and clean, with the last “e” whimsically tilted. (Interesting, since Google recently restructured to have a holding company called Alphabet!)
- There will also be a single capital letter “G,” featuring all four colors, a microphone icon, and a series of colored, animated dots to guide users through various applications.
- According to the company’s blog, they crafted the new look to work on any screen—from jumbo-trons to futuristic, itty-bitty contact lenses—or whatever else will be nagging us for attention in years to come.
When Google launched the new logo, it did it in a really cool way, too. On the search page, they used an animation of a hand coming up, erasing the old logo, and drawing in the new one. No corporate, stuffy memos or enthusiastic CEO speeches. It reflected the image Google wants to portray—being easy, approachable, convenient, and accessible.
And that brings up an intriguing point: What message does this new logo convey? The colors, fonts and design—childlike in their appearance—are, to me, an interesting juxtaposition to what Google actually is: A tremendously complex, smartest-people-in-the-world operation, with continually evolving algorithms people crush their brains over trying to figure out and game. Using their products, though, is simple—which is perhaps what the logo is communicating.
And, that’s where a deeper, damning wave of criticism has bubbled up about Google and its new identity. It’s a condemnation that gets at the very essence of what Google is all about. The company, with its tomes of data on each of us, knows us far more intimately than we know ourselves. As vast and complex as we think we all are, we’re actually pretty predictable creatures… leaving a data trail a mile wide behind us.
From our gmail accounts, to Android phone use, to our searches, to the addresses we look up on maps—Google knows all. And that gives the company unprecedented power some people question or just don’t like.
Does that match, then, its simplistic, colorful, welcoming, children’s television-type logo?!? Those with an anti-Google sentiment see this new identity launch as the company attempting to say, “We’re your friend, see?!? Approachable! Friendly! LIKE US! DON’T BE SCARED!”
Yes, Google’s tentacles reach deep into our lives. And no matter what your opinion is of this mammoth institution, it has a never-ending stream of amazing offerings that nearly all of us use every day. There has been some backlash, of course, including this latest logo lunacy. I’ll be watching the ongoing identity-wrestling match between how the company portrays itself vs. public perception.
With its new brand unveiled to the world, perhaps something bigger has happened to Google. Coming off the heels of a restructuring a few weeks ago, Google seems to have morphed from quirky cool tech company to the realm of big corporate brands… along with all the public relations baggage and branding woes that come with it.
– Andy Badalamenti is the creative director for CI-Group