When two Ph.D. Students decided to create a search engine back in 1996, no one realized that Google would eventually become a multinational company. In addition to being the most popular search engine, the company has managed to shape and mold the look of modern-day internet services, with cloud storage, collaboration tools and interconnected web apps. It’s almost impossible to imagine life without Google anymore. Yet, as the company grew and adapted to demand, the Google logo managed to maintain brand identity consistent with a look that is dynamic and iconic. In this article, we look at changes and evolution that marked the Google logo history.
Google Logo Design Elements
To begin with, it is important to look at the importance of font. Largely ignored unless especially irritating to the eye, the font is something that the reader accepts as a given. However, the typeface can have a serious impact on the text itself, and the Google logo changes make no exception. In his 1964 book Understanding the Media: The Extensions of Man, University of Toronto professor and philosopher Marshall McLuhan first noticed the importance of the medium within any form of communication.
According to his pioneering studies, besides the various modern electronic channels of transmitting information, the text itself is such a medium. As such, it influences the way in which the information it transmits is received. Writer Erroll Morris’s experiment with a quiz in the New York times proves just that.
Changes and Evolution
The Google logo history starts in 1997. The first version of the Google logo had a strong ’90s vibe. When Google Beta was unveiled to the world, in 1998, the logo already started resembling the present-day Google logo. It featured the well-known color scheme. The Google font was slimmer and featured a high-contrast shading. It also used a serif font.
The modern logo at Google was unveiled on September 1, 2015. Ruth Kedar, the overseer of the Google logo evolution, came up with the original design. It is a sans serif logo featuring gently bent text that reads, “Google.” Both G’s are blue, while the first O and the E are red. The second O is yellow, and the L is green.
The text is completely flat, without any shadows or third-dimensional text. The font used for the new Google logo is very similar to the classic Futura font, but there are some slight differences in length and shape. The same font used today by Google is also used by its mother-company, Alphabet.
Google Logo History: Old Google logo 1997 (Source)
Google Logo History: Google Logo 1998 (Source)
The shape of the Google logo design has always consisted of the letters in the company’s name. Originally, these letters were three dimensional letters that were tilted sideways. In 1998, the letters were straightened instead of being slanted, and for a brief period of a year, the design featured an exclamation point at the end, but this was deemed to be too similar to Yahoo’s own logo.
Google Logo History: Google logo 1999-2010 (Source)
The same logo was used from 1999 to 2010, and it featured the text with a shadow and rounded edges. The shadow was slightly reduced in 2013, and by 2013, the letters were completely flattened and un-shadowed. The most significant change came in 2013, when the text font changed from a classic typeface to a custom font.
Google Logo History: Google logo 2013 (Source)
Throughout its history, the Google logo was always featured in the same colors. The order of the colors may change from time to time. The logotype has always been rendered in blue, red, green and yellow. These playful colors are arguably what makes the Google logo so instantly recognizable. Logos tend to lean towards simplicity, when it comes to color schemes, as this makes them easier to integrate into different contexts. The bold Google logo colors, however, make it equally adaptable, as there is no context in which these bright, clear colors would not look well.
The first few logos used by Google featured traditional fonts. At first, Baskerville Bold was used, but it was changed to the Catull typeface in 1999. After years with a Sans Serif typeface, Google decided to change to a custom, sans serif font in 2015.
According to Poole, the Sans Serif font style is not suitable for the usual text. The Serif style alone increases legibility and improves identification through contrast. Sans Serifs, although not very different, fit better in the small pixel grid used by computers. In this way, with one, seemingly incremental, fell swoop, Google enhanced the marketing capabilities of its logo with one simple change.
New Google Logo: Google logo 2015 (Source)
Though the Google logo gets its inspiration from the Futura font that Paul Renner designed back in 1927, it is slightly updated. The crossbar of the E is slanted to give the logo more of a friendly and organic appeal.
It may not seem important, but this simple sans serif text with a slanted E has influenced many other technological companies and their respective logos. One example of a tech company with a similar logo is Lenovo.
The First Google Doodle (Source)
Google is known for replacing the logo on their homepage with a “Google Doodle” that looks similar to the logo but marks some sort of significant event. The first doodle appeared in 1998 and featured a stick figure of the Burning Man because the Google founders wanted to warn their audience that the site might go down while they were attending the Burning Man Festival.
Google continued and expanded this practice, adding more and more doodles corresponding to holidays and special events. While the first doodles were addressed to the United States audience, referencing holidays such as Thanksgivings, Google soon moved on to non-US holidays.
Example of Google Doodle (Source)
Starting from 2008, the Google doodles increased exponentially, numbering in the hundreds. The new doodles commemorated historical events, personalities, famous cartoon characters and most of all, they celebrated the national day of quite a large list of countries. Scroll lower for more Google doodles.
More Google Doodles:
You can view all the Google Logos on www.google.com/doodles, and if you want to compare the design with another similar company, check out our article on the history of the Bing logo.
By keeping it simple, Google has created a logo that is very easy to adapt and change on the fly, while still retaining its brand identity. The Google logo can be just as dynamic as the company itself. Throughout the many iterations of the Google logo, one can instantly recognize the brand behind it.