Instantly recognizable by 4.9 billion internet users, the Google logo is by far the most visible logo in the world. It’s a part of everyone’s day-to-day life, whether you’re looking for funny cat videos, or what the definition of “ubiquitous” is.
But how did it all start? What made the Google logo design so successful? We’ll dive into the complete Google logo history with a design industry leader and the Co-Founder of Type-Together, Viktoria Burian.
The Google logo history
Google originally started as a search engine project called “Backrub” at Stanford in 1996. The founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, wanted to organize all of the information on the internet in an easily accessible way.
Fortunately for us, the name “Backrub!” was soon scrapped.
After some tweaks and a business name change, Google was founded in 1998. Google nailed the search algorithm and quickly became the world’s most popular search engine (Sorry, Yahoo!).
Today, Google is the most recognizable brand in the world. The Google logo has changed over the decades to stay relevant and inclusive of its ever-growing international audience. It’s a prime example of a logo that’s adaptable and applicable to future ventures!
“A logotype expresses contemporary visual culture, development, and taste. It also communicates a company’s attitude and core activity” – Veronika Burian, Co-Founder of Type-Together.
But where did it all begin? How has the Google logo been updated to reflect its global standing?
The original Google logo
This first Google logo was a straightforward affair. It was designed by Sergey Brin, using a free graphics program. It’s got a retro Wordart vibe, which was all the rage back then.
It epitomized the raw, unpolished spirit of a venture taking its first steps.
There’s no rhyme or reason as to why Google chose these brand colors. But, there’s speculation that the first Google logo was inspired by the Lego tower that stored the tech giant’s first server.
It was a short-lived logo design but an iconic one nonetheless. Sergey was no graphic designer. This rendition only lasted a month before Google decided it needed a change.
Google’s first official logo (1997-1998)
In 1997, Google presented its first official logo, a classic 90s creation with an exclamation point at the end. A subtle jab at Yahoo!, perhaps?
The use of a serif font provided a sense of authority and trust. Essential for a company that wants users to rely on it for the world’s information. Serif fonts were also having a moment in that era!
“If we are not trusted, we have no business” Larry Page quote.
But, Google was careful not to shake off its playful spirit.
The team introduced more shadows and gave the lettering more rounded notes. And of course, changed the first ‘G’ from green to blue.
Design your own pixel-perfect logo!
The classic era (1999-2010)
In 1999, Google decided to lean further into its playful spirit. The team brought in Ruth Kedar, a designer, to create the colorful Google we’re all familiar with.
The new logo consisted of a new typeface, Catull. The Catull font has sharp serifs, an angled axis, and modern features.
This use of bright, bold colors was a defining feature of Google’s logo for the next decade. The two ‘o’s slant to the left, while the axis on the “e” slant to the right. It was playful and emphasized Google’s youthful and innovative spirit.
This logo iteration also bid farewell to the exclamation mark for good. After 11 years of this iteration, Google decided to make some changes.
The introduction of a cleaner look (2010-2013)
By 2010, Google began shedding its startup skin. Google had grown to 25,000 employees and was being used in over 100 countries. Google needed a logo to reflect the transition to an internet giant.
As a result, the logo’s drop shadow was minimized and the colors were slightly muted, creating a smoother appearance. It was the beginning of modern design that reflected the stark advancement of technology.
This design also embodied Google’s desire to streamline the user experience. It demonstrated the shift towards flat design becoming popular in the digital landscape.
An emphasis on simplicity (2013-2015)
The 2013 revision saw Google take the modern minimalist approach a step further. It eliminated the shadow effect and opted for a flatter, simpler design.
“It was a logical step for Google to update its logo from a fun garage-style start-up to a serious worldwide influential tech giant. And on the way, dropping the shadows and 3D effects.” – Veronika Burian, Co-Founder of Type-Together.
This update reflected the evolving design trends favoring minimalism. It also accommodated the growing use of mobile devices. Flatter designs tend to scale better on smaller screens.
Birth of the current Google logo (2015 – Present)
The 2015 Google logo was the most radical redesign for the brand. It was more than just a logo change. It represented a complete brand overhaul and the founding of parent company Alphabet Inc.
Google’s chief designers for the logo and brand kit re-design said:
For the first time, Google abandoned the serif font. Instead, it introduced a custom, geometric sans-serif typeface, Product Sans. Sans-serif fonts took center stage due to their modern, crisp, and easy online readability.
The color palette remained, but the designers chose to soften the colors to show Google as a cool tech company.
Using a custom typeface gave Google brand flexibility and cohesiveness.
The sans serif is also highly versatile, maintaining crisp legibility when scaled across devices and screen sizes. Scalability became one of the most important factors in the logo redesign with the company’s product suite continuously growing.
Not everyone was happy with the update though. The general public thought it looked like a kid’s Discovery Zone and compared it to fridge magnets.
But in its present form, many agree that Google’s logo conveys the playful, friendly, and approachable image that’s become synonymous with the brand.
It does this whilst showcasing a mature, refined aesthetic fitting for a tech giant leading the digital age.
The genesis of Google Doodles
Google Doodles revolutionized how users interact with a brand. It all began as a playful, quirky modification of the Google logo back in 1998 when Page and Brin attended the Burning Man Festival.
Here’s the first Google Doodle of all time:
This quirky act marked the genesis of Google Doodles, a now celebrated tradition synonymous with the brand itself.
The Doodles embody Google’s brand ethos of injecting fun and creativity into technology. Doodles commemorate a wide range of events, anniversaries, and unsung heroes from around the world.
Most importantly, it connects current and important events to Google – making people perceive the brand as their “news source”.
Logo variations: Google’s ever-expanding universe
From Gmail to Google Docs, the brand has managed to maintain its recognizability across a wide range of products. How do Google designers keep everything Google-y? Through color, shape, and crisp clarity.
- Google Drive: Google Drive’s logo carries distinctive Google colors in a triangular shape. The three colors represent the Google Drive services; Sheets, Docs, and Slides.
- Google Maps: The Google Maps logo adopts Google’s color palette in a location pin shape, indicating its function.
- Google Play: The Google Play logo uses the same color palette and employs a unique triangular symbol. The overlay of colors as stripes or blocks is a common tactic for dressing the icon with the Google logo colors.
- Gmail: The Gmail logo utilizes Google’s recognizable color scheme within an envelope icon. It symbolizes its primary function as a dependable platform for electronic communication.
Google stays consistent in color and simplicity across all subsidiary logos. Despite unique individual elements, it ensures brand recognition while still allowing for differentiation.
But what does all this mean? How has Google tied it all together as it grew from a garage startup to the 5th biggest company in the world?
Let’s take a look.
The impact of the Google logo through time
Google has made information universally accessible to anyone with a wifi connection. The logo is the face of this mission – slowly changing with the times but always holding on to its playful spirit and user-centric ethos.
The vibrant colors speak to the company’s creativity and innovation. The simplicity of the logo highlights Google’s commitment to accessible design.
The switch from a serif to a sans-serif font in 2015 prioritized readability and accessibility on all digital platforms. It mirrored the company’s shift from ‘just’ a search engine into a suite of products for everyone, and everything.
More than just a brand symbol, the Google logo is a visual manifestation of the company’s journey and its vision for the future.
What does the Google logo symbolize?
The Google logo symbolizes their playful and innovative approach. It stands for the massive volume of information available and the company’s mission to make it accessible and useful.
Why Google has four colors?
Google’s logo features four colors – blue, red, yellow, and green. These colors signify Google’s bold, playful, and unconventional nature. The color pattern challenges the rule that primary colors should come before secondary colors. This symbolizes Google’s tendency to defy the norm.
Who designed the Google logo?
Ruth Kedar designed the 2010 Google logo. Each iteration thereafter has been a take on this initial design.
What font does Google use in its logo?
Google’s current logo uses a typeface called Product Sans. The font is unique to Google. Using a geometric sans-serif font reflects the company’s straightforward approach to providing information. It was specifically designed for scalability and legibility across various platforms and devices.
How often does Google change its logo?
Google’s primary logo has seen significant changes roughly every 2 to 5 years. But, through Google Doodles, the company alters its logo almost daily on its homepage. Google celebrates important events, anniversaries, and individuals. This showcases the dynamic and interactive facet of its branding.