How Google Stays Relevant
Posted on Oct. 30, 2015, at 6 p.m.
by Katie Gatti.
Taylor Shelnutt covered the changes in Google’s new logo several weeks ago, but two months after its advent seems an appropriate time to reflect on what this change truly means for the world’s biggest search engine.
As Greg Brooks mentioned in an interview a few months ago, “a brand is the most pivotal thing to a company’s success.” The visual identity should reflect the intangible qualities of the brand, but it is not the brand itself. Brooks explained that a brand is a representation of a promise to deliver an expected value — not just a flashy logo or a memorable tagline.
When Google was founded in Menlo Park, California, in 1998, its brand was quite different. In the 1990s, there were several search engines competing for popularity. Reliability was a primary concern for consumers, and Google wanted to be perceived as an authoritative and professional source of information.
The footed letters fit this theme well. Google used primary colors, with the exception of the green “l”: a color choice designed to convey a quirky sense of unconventional thought. The slightly rotated “e” is further proof that, at its core, Google has always been a little goofy.
Fast-forward to 2015, and Google no longer strives to appear commanding and serious. As the undisputed top search engine in the world, its aesthetic priorities are shifting. Rather than authoritative and staid, Google is curious, modern and streamlined. Its new, bold and simple logo conveys this change in attitude well.
In true Google fashion, form meets function. The thin, serif letters didn’t hold up to scalability standards, and as screens got smaller and app icons became more prevalent, readability was a meaningful concern. The thick, clean lines of the new logo scale down beautifully and lend themselves to a more pleasant aesthetic experience.
A company like Google is successful in part because of its ability to recognize the need for evolution. Dwelling too firmly in the past and ignoring external changes will result in a brand experience that feels boring and outdated. To stay relevant, a company must be constantly aware of the changing world surrounding it and the culture within it, and adapt accordingly.
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