When Google revealed their new logo recently I must admit I looked at it and thought ‘oh, is that it?’ It seemed that for such a huge company, with so many fingers in so many pies, it was somewhat ordinary.
The previous logo may have been simple and a little dated, but using a simple, clean serif font made it stand out from their rivals. I was reminded of the underwhelming eBay logo redevelopment which made the branding look bland in that situation.
Then, slowly it dawned on me, this is Google, not eBay. The eBay problem was that the website interface barely changed, the apps barely changed, the screen is so cluttered that the new simple logo just gets lost. The core of Google is the search engine, a simple white page with one logo and one text box. The simple design wouldn’t be lost, it would be clear and sharp and easy on the eye.
Following on from this I realised something else. Google, or now Alphabet as they should be known, is a broad church. They have the search business, Android and it’s apps, electric self driving cars, Google Books, Google Maps and so much more. Normal rules do not necessarily apply. This is not just a logo for stationery, shop front and website. It will be used on phones, cars, possibly drones, and all around the world. Complexity was out of the question as it could be used pretty much anywhere and in any context.
Realising this I looked a little deeper and discovered, unsurprisingly that there was more to the Google logo than met the eye. There are in fact three elements, the letterform, a series of four dots, and a single capital G. All three work together to complete a whole, but each individually work to act as a brand mark for Google. The G is not only the same form as the capital of the letterform, but uses the simple and clear Google colour palette. The dots also make use of the same colour palette, and it doesn’t take much thought seeing them in isolation to realise that they represent Google with no words at all. In fact the dots will very much be in evidence online as they will form a range of motion animations to cover ‘waiting’, ‘searching’ and other uses without being generic.
This animated graphic is from the Google Blog http://googleblog.blogspot.co.uk
On the face of it (pun intended) it seems unnecessary for Google to develop their own typeface for this project. However, this goes right back to my initial misgivings on the logo design. Google are massive, they have access to resources millions don’t if they hadn’t developed a new font then that would have been more extraordinary in hindsight.
It is the letterform, and new font which seems to have had some sections of the general and design press up in arms. Some of the strange criticisms I have seen include ‘too simple’ and ‘too much like comic sans’! The use of comic sans as an insult is not only inaccurate and wrong, it is lazy journalism. I have already written, in my Tuesday Typeface category, about comic sans and how, although it is not a well designed or useful face, that is unfairly maligned. Of late many people online seem to just refer to it in a lazy troll like way without giving thought or reason. Which I suspect is why people have likened the new Google logo to it.
What is strange about this is that the new Google letterform has been designed to be as clear as possible, for all uses and all across the world. Meanwhile, one of the positive uses found for comic sans has been with dyslexia where it has been found a useful font for clarity and understanding. Something which is the aim of the Google logo itself.
I think that as the more think about it, and the more that time passes, the new Google logo seems more and more appropriate and a very suitable solution for such a huge, international brand. Unlike the eBay experiment with a simplified design, it will not end up making the brand bland.
As with my previous two articles my writing of this got me thinking about what a logo is, what it is for and how the whole idea works. I already have another article in mind to follow up on this, watch this space…