Last night (Tuesday 1 September) Google revealed the biggest update to its branding in 16 years. Gone is the old serif typeface which Google has used since 1999 in favour of a new dynamic, animated logo which will react to users written and verbal search requests. Splitting opinion as all redesigns do we asked a host of people from the design world to share their reaction to Google's new look.
Simon Manchipp, executive creative director, SomeOne
OK — So first things first — this is fine and we wouldn’t be discussing it if it was anyone other than the goliath that is Google. BUT — Let’s look below the surface, the colours and character shapes.
Google stands for ‘organising the internet and making it useful’ — yet behind this rather dull claim of being good at filing, the organisation has — through letting people do what people are great at, namely thinking and inventing and making — found itself rather brilliantly creating new stuff, rather than just organising other peoples stuff.
So the move to homogenise must have been a hard one culturally for Google to swallow. But swallow they have, and I wonder if that best helps to represent a diverse and progressive organisation. The serif nodded to the more intellectual pursuits. The sans nods to the playground. Add those colours and you wander towards the nursery.
Google has rather uniquely found itself in a position to do anything it flipping well likes. So… with a brief to do whatever you like to engage anyone with a screen. Would you, as a world-class creative, slip out of the door with a knee-jerk san-serif, the same but ever-so slightly tweaked colours and some dots? Where’s the ambition? The showboating? The wow? It’s a lot for a visual brand identity to do… but surely Google should be the people to do it…
Scott Rushton, design director, Tribal Worldwide London
Google has changed its logo. So what do we think about it? Who cares... The point is not that they have a new font or that they rotated the 'e' 5˚ counter-clockwise, the point is simply that they have changed it. It is a reflection of our culture and our society. We live in a world of outward change. Google is still Google just as you are still you whether you wear black or bright pink. All they've done is get out of bed, looked in a wardrobe at a serif font and thought "I'm gonna treat myself to a nice sans serif today". What really makes Google who they are is the way they challenge and adapt to modern life and a good example of that is the Google Doodles which I expect to continue, serif or sans. As Marshall McLuhan said, "The medium is the message", and in this case the medium is change.
Tony Connor, creative director, Bulletproof London
The essence of the design is still strong and the simplicity has empowered a new suite of infographic style icons that bounce around in a very googley way. I’m a little disappointed that the lower case ‘g’ shifted from the loop to the classic tail, as it would have helped it look less like a fridge magnet. I do feel that a bit of the original quirk and naivety has been lost; all of the simplification and stripping back makes it all feel a touch more sterile than before.
There’s no denying that the new identity’s bold simplicity will scale brilliantly across the multiple devices and ever increasing platforms that it needs to populate. So I guess it’s a success. Is it something I care about or want to be a part of? Nope. Will I continue to use Google every day? Yup.
Martyn Hayes, associate creative director, Elmwood
What's not to like? A simpler more grown up mark that works well on all platforms. It seemed inevitable that Google would follow the likes of Microsoft in evolving to a modern sleek brand mark, with lovely animated transitions. But, I can’t help feeling a little sad that the quirkiness of the old mark has been lost and replaced by, dare I say it, blandness.
Matt Gelder, associate creative director, Clinic
As a static logo it's bland and uninteresting yet functional - Google’s previous logo did not scale very well and the new version solves these important scalability issues. However once the logo is animated, it has a personality that is instantly Google.
Asa Cook, creative director, Design Bridge
I have been anticipating a redesign of the Google identity for many years – it was long overdue. The previous marque had served the brand well but had begun to look very dated. It belonged to the world of Microsoft circa 1995, when unnecessary 3D airbrushing and drop shadows were the order of the day.
The new identity retains many of the positives (distinctive, friendly, human) whilst feeling relevant for today. I think the design team did a great job. There is just one thing missing… Where has the beautifully quirky character of the lowercase ‘g’ gone?
Design.google.com shows that the designers were instinctively retaining it in the concept stage in the spirit of the great Eric Gill. The humble lowercase ‘g’ in Gill Sans is a wonder to behold. It’s a shame that this graphic thought was discarded later in the design process.
Kevin Lan, design director, The Partners
For one the World’s most famous brands – why did it take so long? The real joy of the identity is how it extends beyond the logo; the redesigned icons, Google Now and all the animations. It finally looks like the hopes of Google’s material design have been fully realised.
Stephen Lynch, creative director, Aesop Agency
The simplification of the logotype and the addition of the coloured dots adds a playful charm to the identity. On the whole, this evolution is inoffensive.
Is that such a bad thing? Probably not when your brand spans a huge range of products, interfaces and is seen by billions of people every day, in every country of the world.
Google has never been at the vanguard of design. Their technology has changed the world, this logo refresh won’t.
Sam Ball, creative director, M&C Saatchi
When you read some of the backlash to Google's new logo you think they would have swapped the o’s with two bum holes and the l for a dildo. They have so many guest Google doodles now I can’t remember what the original one looked like anyway and it’s only been a day. For the record I like the new logo, its sans serif and sans to get worried about. I am sure in 15 years’ time typographers around the world will go ballistic again when the logo represents the current trends.
Sissy Emmons Hobizal, design director, Pearlfisher
What's really compelling is Google's deceptively simple animated video that charts the evolution of the brand (above). The animation is elegant and a perfect example of how motion graphics can be a powerful tool in telling a brand's story. This is no animated powerpoint - every transition is considered and propels you through the visuals and communicates that this is a living brand, not a static wordmark.
Sean Thomas, creative director, Jones Knowles Ritchie
I’m undecided on the logo when static, with both ‘G’s having lost a little of their charm for me. Once it starts moving and having fun though, it’s great; and surely for a brand that almost entirely exists online, that’s how it ought to be judged.
Being able to ultimately brand any future graphic icon as their own by using a combination of four simple colours is incredibly smart, reductive design. The way they’ve used the ‘O’s to help navigate which web page you’re on, the simple ownable shorthand ‘G’ for the logo, the moving four dots… all of those are instantly recognisable simply by their colour scheme against white. And you can’t get much more unique and powerful than that in the modern, digital world we now live in.
Chris Butterworth, executive creative director, Omobono
It’s an interesting take on a digital first identity. Whilst the wordmark will be the main thing that people see in their browser, the small space G and the animated dots offer brand consistency across a whole range of new applications – from smart watches to voice activated search.
Switching to sans serif seems inevitable in the digital world, but it has been sensitively handled and still retains a sense of personality. Which isn’t always the case – as the disastrous Gap rebrand proved. It’s something of a shame though when fonts like Paul Barnes’ Portrait make useable, distinctive serifs that work in digital environments.
In many ways, the previous version was the sore thumb in the visual vocabulary that Google has developed, so this new iteration pulls it into line.
Katy Jackson, interaction designer, Adaptive Lab
This new logo isn't much of a surprise, it just makes sense. It feels as familiar as the old one yet it fits with everything new.
With the introduction of material design in 2014 every Google product is now relying a lot more on animated interactions and clean interfaces, which made the old Serif logo look awkward.
This logo fits much better with the rest of the design language they have been working so hard to get consistent, and you can see it embeds well in their current products like Google Maps.
With Google's recent structural changes (Alphabet) it's a great time to switch up the logo to communicate that things have changed.
Adrian Burton, executive creative director, Lambie-Nairn
Love it or loathe it. When it comes to Google, does it really matter? With Google there's always more method than madness and there's clearly a plan afoot and a real need to be addressed. The new logo is a true product of function over form. A somewhat analog necessity for the worlds most ubiquitous 'digital' brand. That said it's a brand by default. First and foremost it's a series of amazing tools (things that let you do stuff). Stuff that's increasingly important to all of our daily lives. It's what it does, the ease with which it works and not what it looks like that we ultimately value.
As for the brand. It's the iconic combination of the 4 colours (the dots) and it's name not the letterforms which have always driven and will continue to provide the visual and verbal narrative for the current and 6th chapter of the brands story.
In respect to the design itself. It’s simple, bold and universal. But above all fit for purpose. Finally it’s been redesigned with the screen (all screens) in mind. Gone are the small awkward serifs, the thick and thins of the character forms and the somewhat old fashioned double story lower case ‘g’. Again purely in practical terms, the new capital letter ‘G’ is a far more suitable and ownable shorthand for the brand than its lowercase predecessor. It all makes perfect sense.
Connie Birdsall, senior partner, creative director, Lippincott
Google's new logo is elegantly simple but still maintains the fun and playful quality of the original design. It speaks to the future potential as well as the current functionalities of the Google brand. The four dots are really beautifully choreographed to communicate with us ‘human beings’ - it is actually pretty magical and 100 per cent universal. The design and precise craftsmanship show a great depth of intelligence and restraint not typical of these types of evolutionary programs.
Glyn Britton, chief strategy officer, Albion
The world is pretty cynical about most new logos, and quite rightly so, as many are vanity projects, trying to give an illusion of change and modernity where none really exists (The Gap debacle from 2010 being a clear example).
I don't think this is quite the same. It's clear that real change is happening at Google, with a new CEO leading a new holding company, Alphabet. Google has never been shy of change and experimentation, though it has previously been in adjacent new ventures while they've scaled and defended the cash cow; their search advertising business.
But that core search advertising business is now coming under increasing threat from mobile players, especially Facebook. Suddenly typing into a search box in a mobile web browser feels old fashioned. Increasingly, messaging looks like it will become the dominant interface on mobile.
So it's clear that the core Google business needs significant change, and I hope this new logo is a symbol of that.
Sven Kaifel, head of design, LIDA
I really do like the latest update to the Google logo. The old logo felt quite dated to me and you could clearly tell that it’s original incarnation was created in the big bang days of the internet. The new logo not only feels very contemporary and current but also reflects the way Google is used today. It's simplified form means that it will work and look so much better on smaller devices like smartphones or tablets. I’m happy to see that Google is going with the times and reacted to the change in how it’s service gets used.