The New Google Logo Is Not Great...But...

The New Google Logo Fails to Impress

New Google Logo.

A rebrand is no small task. It can take months, or even years, to accomplish. It can take millions of dollars, thousands of hours of creative time, plus even more time spent in meetings, sending emails, and discussing the work. And when all is said and done, the end result will usually be treated with either derision, or apathy. Rarely, you will get people who really love the new direction.

In the case of Google’s new logo, which was given a makeover at the end of 2015, this is definitely not one of those rare moments.

Which is sad, when you consider that people generally love Google as a company, and what it brings to the table. This is a company known for innovating, and standing out as a shining example of the way we should all working – smarter, not harder.

So what’s with the rebrand, or to be more honest, re-bland?

Change Incites Change

When Google announced it’s new operating structure, Alphabet, and the fact that Google itself would be a part of that parent company, it was only a matter of time before the rebrand came. It had to. A big change like that needs a rebrand, unless the parent company adopts the Google aesthetic; and that would be the tail wagging the dog.

And so, like clockwork, Google introduced the new logo on September 1st, 2015. They call it an evolution, although many people disagree. It certainly has its roots in the previous incarnations, but there are changes.

As Google said, You expect Google to help you whenever and wherever you need it, whether it’s on your mobile phone, TV, watch, the dashboard in your car, and yes, even a desktop! Today we’re introducing a new logo and identity family that reflects this reality and shows you when the Google magic is working for you, even on the tiniest screens. As you’ll see, we’ve taken the Google logo and branding, which were originally built for a single desktop browser page, and updated them for a world of seamless computing across an endless number of devices and different kinds of inputs (such as tap, type and talk).”

Well “g,” What’s the Problem?

The answer is in the question. The lower case g we have come to identify with Google has gone; or as The New Yorker so deftly put it, “the typwriterwish, lovable g.”

There was a charm to the old Google logo that has been trounced by the new one. The old logo, based on the Catull font, was friendly.

Serif fonts can often be quite formal, but they are also easier to read. With the rainbow of colors, and the subtle tweaks, Google’s previous logo was immediately identifiable, approachable, and embodied the character of the company we have grown to trust.

The new logo, a sans serif font designed just for Google, is not so much friendly as childish. In fact, it’s reminiscent of the titles on children’s books, those magnetic letters you used to stick to your fridge, or the letters used on shows like “Look and Read” and “Sesame Street” that help you learn how to write.

“Up, down, and around. Up, down, and around. You try it.”

Very simple. Very bold . But also, very homogenous. This extremely costly rebrand has taken the elegant Google logo of the past few years, and thrown it away in favor of something that any budding designer with a Mac and an hour to spare could have done.

There is always a justification behind these rebrands. However, sometimes, it’s better to just leave things alone, or make the most modest of changes. For instance, when Google updated its logo in 2013, it simple dropped the embossing. That was smart. It was a more grown up logo. No frills, but great personality.

And as far as not doing anything at all, think back to the case of Richard Branson’s Virgin company.

He once spent millions of dollars asking a design firm to overhaul the logo. After many meetings and thousands of hours of work, they suggested he leave the logo alone. And, he did. Gladly.

The point is, change for the sake of change is a waste of time. Change that does nothing to improve the image of the company, that’s even worse. This is a misstep for Google. But, it will all blow over soon. And the logo we all loved will be archived forever.


The Aftermath - Who Cares?

Since this article was originally published in 2015, Google has continued to be a leading innovator in so many different areas. For one, the launch of the Pixel and Pixel XL phones received a tremendous reception, and that was just the beginning. In May 2017, Google CEO Sundar Pichai gave a keynote on the future of Google, and once again, it looks exceptionally bright...despite a logo that's not quite as memorable as the previous incarnation.

Here are just a few highlight:

Google Lens
This one is exciting, and will become one of the primary ways that we search for information in the future. It's considered "reverse image search," but that's not really doing it justice. What it does is utilize your camera phone to search the web for content. Take a photo of a flower, it will tell you not only what the flower is, but where it grows naturally, what weather it likes, what to feed it, and the kind of bugs it attracts. The same goes for animals, buildings, objects, or anything else you can photograph.

Google Play Protect
Essentially, this is an added layer of security for your Android device. As Google explains, it actively monitors for threats, and also includes the very handy Find My Device feature; which, if you have kids, will come in useful several times a day. 

Google A.I. Experiments
Just as the title says, Google is playing in the artificial intelligence sandbox. And because it's Google, you know there is some impressive experimentation going on. With A.I. Duet, you can actually play a musical duet with the computer. Another experiment combines image searching with musical composition. And then there's AutoDraw. All you do is scratch out some rough shape on your phone, and the A.I. software will figure out what it is you were actually trying to draw, and replace it. 

These are just a few examples of the reason Google's luke warm logo refresh do not matter in the long term. As they continue to innovate, we will all link that innovation to the logo and think of it in a positive light. Branding via excellence. That's smart.