The old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. So why did Google, one of the world’s most innovative high-tech giants just change their logo – again?
Google has been a household name for 19 years, but it outdid itself this past week, making headlines with its fifth logo change since the company’s inception.
A company is known by the logo it keeps, and with every new change or tweak, it is taking a risk with its branding. But Google will tell you all of their logo changes are intended to keep up with the times and that this time probably won’t be the last time either.
Google’s vice president of product management, Tamar Yehoshua wrote on the company’s blog that the new look: “doesn’t simply tell you that you’re using Google, but also shows you how Google is working for you.” The update is tailored for a world of seamless computing across an endless number of devices and different kinds of inputs such as tap, type and talk.
On closer examination though, there is less to the latest tweak than meets the eye, and when it comes to logo changes, less is sometimes more.
Look at the different Google logos over the years and you will see how subtle the changes really are.
The color scheme has always remained the same: blue red, yellow, and green. With the exception of their very first logo in 1998, when the capital G was green, in every subsequent incarnation, the capital G has been blue and remained blue. The colors of each of the other letters have stuck to the same, exact sequence.
Google has played with the shapes and fonts of the letters. The brand new logo uses the sans-serif font, which is cleaner and more austere, ridding itself of the old font which sported little “feet” at the end of various letters. The letters “o” in Google have undergone the biggest changes, though, in shape, thickness and in the use of or removal of shadows.
The latest look also weighs less as Matt Swider of techradar points out. At 305 bytes instead of 14,000, it downloads quicker and saves money for users on limited data plans.
On occasion, clients ask me whether the time has come to modernize or change their logos. I always remind them that a customer’s first impression of their company is made after looking at their logo, so the logo must convey their brand, concept and be memorable. So any changes must be as well thought out and conceptualized as Google’s, such as:
- Don’t do anything drastic: The rule of thumb is unless a company has a specific reason to make a break with their past, perhaps because of change in ownership, or an evolution in their product mix or a revolutionary new product, keep the changes subtle.
- Keep it versatile: Just as Google understands its logo has to catch the eye on a wide variety of devices, logos need to preserve their look on both large and small screens and be sized to fit on anything from a business card to a billboard.
- Coordinate your colors: All colors radiate temperatures. Reds, oranges and yellows are warm, while blues, greens and purples are cool. It’s interesting that Google uses two warm colors and two cool ones, for balance. Choose colors that match the mood of your organization.
- Keep it tied to your business strategy: The venerable UPS has changed its logo just four times in a little more than a century. Their one major change a decade ago was to remove the bow-tied package above the UPS shield, to symbolize their expansion from package delivery into a broader array of air, ocean and rail services.
Remember, changing your logo is akin to changing your wardrobe. The people you interface with are used to your current look. So while it’s nice to freshen things up every now and then, be careful that the novelty doesn’t come at the expense of the image you have worked so hard to cultivate and maintain.
This Week’s Bottom Line Action Step: Change a logo for the sake of rebranding, not for the sake of change.