One of the most recognized brands in the world, the iconic Gmail logo is clean and simple, yet powerfully memorable. Just like a person’s fingerprints uniquely identifies and defines them, so does the logo for a company. Gmail is no different.
Google took a fresh approach to email and its innovations have fundamentally changed what people expect from their email service. Gmail was built on the concept that people should never have to delete emails, and they should always be able to find the messages they want. It drastically reduced inbox clutter. As a result, Gmail remains one of the most popular web-based email services today.
When it burst onto the scene, it quickly became a formidable competitor to AOL, Yahoo, and Hotmail. Since then, Google’s signature email product has far surpassed those of competitors and is one of the most favored consumer email services available.
The Development Of Gmail
Some find it hard to believe that Gmail initially began as a “side project” for a Google engineer, Paul Buchheit. He considered it a side project because Google required engineers to spend 20% of their time – or one day a week – working on projects they have a special interest in and are unrelated to their day jobs.
The inspiration for developing Gmail came from a user who complained about the poor quality of email services available at the time. She wanted an easier solution for filing and retrieving her email messages and felt she was wasting too much time trying to just organize her email. “If a Google user has a problem with email, so do we,” said Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google.
So, Buchheit began working on Gmail in 2001. He developed the first version within a day with the goal of producing an email service that was more efficient, intuitive, and useful. Originally, the service was used within the company and by the time it was released there were 12 people within Google working on it. It remained in beta before being officially launched in 2004.
Gmail accounts were such a hot commodity when it was first introduced that users needed to receive invitations to acquire an account. It started as a free, search-based webmail service, it remains so today.
The Gmail Brand
When Gmail was launched, there were several unique features which made it different from other webmail services. These features ultimately led to its continued success today.
Organizes Conversations Into Threads
Gmail eliminated the need to file messages into folders. It automatically organizes individual emails into meaningful “conversations.” It groups the conversations in a thread. As someone replies to you, Gmail automatically brings up all previous related messages in a single, collapsible thread.
This allows you to see messages along with all the replies sent in response to them. With other email providers, replies would show as a separate email, but with Gmail, they are grouped into one thread. Best of all, this spares you the effort of searching folders to see what was written days or weeks ago.
Gmail made it easy for users to quickly search every email they’ve ever received. Keywords and advanced search features allow Gmail users to find what they are looking for when they need it. Since Gmail is built on Google search technology, users can search by keywords with high precision.
Gmail offers users more storage space than most other free webmail services. Google believes that people should be able to hold on to their mail forever if they choose to do so. Gmail made a huge boom from the first day with the amount of free storage that is provided. When it was initially launched, users received 1,000 megabytes (or 1GB) of storage.
Back then, Yahoo was only providing 2 megabytes of free storage, and Hotmail provided 5 megabytes of free storage. Today, Gmail users have 15 gigabytes of storage for each Google account, combining Gmail and Google Drive. Users can purchase additional storage through a monthly subscription plan if needed.
The Gmail spam filter makes it easier for a user to see only the emails which are relevant to them. It has an automatic detection system that uses a combination of user analytics and virus/phishing detection to send suspicious messages directly to spam. Its spam detection and filtering are extremely accurate and part of the reason why the email service has remained so popular.
Competitive webmail services were full of annoying pop-up ads. When it was introduced, Google deliberately made sure the Gmail user interface was clean and free of images or pop-up ads. Advertisements were set in a text format and Google positioned them in the corner to be less intrusive.
Combining Multiple Email Boxes
Gmail allows you to connect to your other online email boxes and combine them with your Gmail account. This is invaluable for those who use Outlook at work or people who have different email addresses.
Messages are delivered very quickly, often within seconds of pressing the send button. With the extensive network of Google servers around the world, Gmail users enjoy near-instantaneous sending.
Gmail Logo Design History
Some people work best under a tight deadline. That certainly seemed to be true for Dennis Hwang, who designed the Gmail logo the night before the product was launched. Hwang was Google’s international webmaster. He was also responsible for designing many of the Google doodles and logos and developed over 150 Google doodles during his career.
Hwang spent the day before the launch coming up with ideas for a logo that would work with the colorful Google brand. Little did he know, as a twenty-something guy sitting alone at his desk, sipping tea, that he would develop the main branding element for a product that would eventually be used by millions of people.
Kevin Fox, a former Google designer, tells the story that “the logo was designed literally the night before the product launched. We were up very late, and Sergey and I went down to his cube to watch him make it.”
Look closely at the logo and you’ll see that the first Gmail logo created was a combination of two different type fonts. Most people would never notice this, but the fonts truly are different. Initially, they tried to make the logo in the same font as the Google logo. The “G” is in Catull typeface, which is the same font as the Google logo. However, because Catull has an “a” that looks rather strange, Hwang decided he needed a cleaner, sans-serif font. That led him to choose the Myriad Pro font for “ail.”
The “m,” of course, appears as a small envelope. Referred to as “Envelope M” by Google staff, this is now the universal Gmail symbol. It has come to be recognized by millions around the world.
The Evolution Of The Gmail Logo
Corporate logos often change over time to stay fresh and relevant. The Gmail logo is no different. It’s gone through more than one logotype since the introduction of its beta version almost fifteen years ago. However, all Gmail logos continue to use the same “Envelope M” theme that was first introduced. Here is a timeline of the Gmail logos:
2004 (Beta): The initial logo was actually represented as Google Mail. It positioned the word “mail” underneath the more prominent Google logo, just off-center. The logo also incorporated the text “beta.”
2004-2010: When the service was formally launched in 2004, Google also introduced the brand name of Gmail. The first official Gmail logo incorporated the same colors as the Google logo as a way to visually associate it with the parent brand. For the first time, Gmail became the most prominent part of the logo, with the words “by Google” in smaller type and aligned underneath, to the left side.
2010-2013: In 2010, Gmail relaunched its front page. At the same time, they introduced an updated logo that was more in line with Google’s recently launched logo. The words “by Google” were shifted to align with the right side underneath the Gmail logo.
2013-present: Today, the Gmail logo only includes red, gray, and white as the background color. There are several shades of the red and gray, necessary for creating 3D effects with the logo. The logo simply includes the iconic “Envelope M,” without the word “Gmail.”
The iconic Gmail logo is known around the globe. Even though it has gone through some big changes over the years, it represents an email service that has become widely recognized as one of the best, if not the best, on the market today. It’s no surprise that today Gmail is one of the most used email services, with an active user base of more than 1.5 billion people.
It’s a complete tool that provides users with the most efficient way to manage, personalize and control their messages. If you don’t have a Gmail account yet, we encourage you to head on over to Gmail.com and get started today.