From once-a-minute algorithm updates to sneaky little SEO switches that show up in your site analytics, Google is famous for altering its game on a near-constant basis.
When it comes to the logo, though, people tend to assume that Google has stayed steady.
Truth…and fiction. We’ll explain why.
A series of cosmetic switches have led the search engine giant to the iconic household brand it is today.
Read on to learn more.
The History of Google’s Logo: A Brand in the Making
Like most companies, Google has rebranded itself multiple times throughout its lifespan.
While the company began to take shape around 1997 (growing out of a web crawler hilariously named “BackRub”), it’s gone through approximately 14 inceptions since then. While this may be shocking for some people who are accustomed to the smooth, streamlined Google of today, it just goes to show that even the world’s best brands need some time to find themselves.
Here’s a basic breakdown of the Google logo history:
1997: The Birth of Google
Before Google, as we know it now, there was BackRub, a weirdly sensual web crawler with a equally odd blood-red logo. Gizmodo was kind enough to keep these screenshots around so we could all see:
Deciding, apparently, that this graphic work of art wasn’t ideal for long-term staying power, Larry Page and Sergey Brin (the minds behind Google) decided to change it up a bit. In 1997, they came out with Google’s first logo:
This rough (to put it nicely) first logo made its debut on the servers of Stanford University and enjoyed a year of prominence before it shifted again in 1998.
1998: Google Gets More Sophisticated
In 1998, Google’s Sergey Brin decided that the laid-back chunky letters weren’t doing it any longer, and gave the brand a fresh new facelift with this logo:
By 1999, Google had stumbled upon its now-iconic color scheme, opted for a more 3D print, and added some tasteful shadowing and an exclamation point. Because, hey, surfing the web is fun!
While the colors may seem random to some, they’re the result of a careful thought conceptual process on the part of Ruth Kedar, one of the original logo designers. The colors are the primary colors on the color wheel, and Kedar and her team believed that they would infuse the brand with a sense of playfulness.
The brand got a little cheeky, though, when it broke the progression of the primary colors (thereby proving it didn’t take the rules too seriously) by choosing a secondary color for the “l.” The pattern remains today.
1999 Onwards: The Google Logo is Growing Up
By 1999, Google had come into its own as a powerful search engine and was beginning to position itself for total global domination.
Of course, it needed a logo to match. Throughout 1999, Google went through several concept logos, including one done in Catull type and featuring a stylized target, and one featuring o’s interlocked into infinity.
At the end of the day, though, Google decided that simpler was better – a statement that’s defined the brand ever since – and they landed on this colorful (yet still tastefully shaded) logo that looks a bit closer to what they’re rocking today:
That logo served the company well, and the brand used it all the way through until 2010.
2010-2013: Tasteful Shading Be Gone!
All good things must come to an end, and in 2010, Google decided to do away with the delicate shading that had graced its logo for so long. In addition to the fact that the search engine ditched the shading, they also made the type bolder and brightened the colors for a punchier look.
2013-2015: Google’s Logo in the Modern Age
Last year, Google made the most recent alteration to its logo and opted for a flat design, softer edges, and a layout that would be easier to read on small mobile screens.
2016: Google Today
Today, Google’s famous new logo and standalone G is simpler and more iconic than ever before. It’s a combination of desiring to represent how smart they are and how they’re not just a “system,” but far more intuitive and friendly than that today, says Wired. The font is a bespoke typeface, Product Sans.
Why Google has Yet to Go Off-Brand
While Google’s logo has changed more than a dozen times since its inception, it’s important to note that the company has never gone off-brand totally. Ever since 1999, the Google logo has featured the same colors, same basic layout, and same preference toward simplicity.
There’s an important lesson to be learned here.
Just because Google has adapted, it hasn’t overhauled entirely. This, in turn, has allowed it to remain recognizable and approachable for a wide variety of users around the world. Brand looking to adjust their logos or branding strategies can learn a thing or two from this approach.
The Google Logo: An Ever-Evolving Brand
Today, it’s safe to say that Google pretty much rules the internet.
Their recent EAT/YMYL standards have given webmasters and content creators rules to live by while their algorithm updates make virtually everyone on the web ask “how high?” when the requirement to jump rolls around.
An infinitely smart, savvy, and innovative company, Google proves that there’s no real plateau – no matter what level of global domination you reach.
Through Google’s continuous rebranding and simplification efforts, it’s easy to see that learning to recreate yourself as a company is a critical skill for growth and upward mobility.
As the years clip along, there’s no doubt that we’ll continue to see new and exciting iterations of the Google logo. There’s also no doubt that every single one will be better than the last.
Where do you think Google is going? Let us know in the comments!
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