If you haven't opened Chrome to a new tab page or browsed to google.com in a while, you may be surprised when you do. Instead of the tried, trusted, and true thin, colorful, serif logotype we've all become used to, we are instead greeted with... something new.
The unveiling of the new logo has, even in its infancy, already been the cause of division not only among designers, but between anyone who visits what could be considered the most utilized web service in the world. At Pleth, we're divided on whether or not it's an effective logo, with reactions ranging from "I love it." to "I don't hate it." to "The more I look at it, the more I like it.". Jordon's under the impression that its trendiness won't outlast its timeliness and in some ways I agree.
How Did We Get Here?
The original Google logo was made by Ruth Kedar back in (can you believe it) 1999. She aimed for something playful, deceptively simple, subtly sophisticated, with humor. It was based on a typeface called Catull, which referenced traditional writings instruments like quills in its shape. The logo bridged a mental gap from the analog world to the digital age.
The logo lost its shadows and bevels over time and an "update" to the logo made the news as well when Google adjusted the locations of its letterforms. If moving the letters of a logo an imperceptible amount can make the news, major changes to come would me polarizing.
Not-so Imperceptible Changes
If you were paying attention to the goings-on at Google, you may remember a big change that the company announced in the form of Alphabet (http://abc.xyz — Yes, that's the real URL; very clever). Alphabet is the new corporation that now houses Google and all of its subsidiaries. Larry Page, Alphabet's CEO explained it better, saying "Alphabet is mostly a collection of companies. The largest of which, of course, is Google." Since Google had so much stuff going on aside from what they do for the Internet (you know... self-driving cars, wi-fi everywhere, and whatnot), they've decided to separate those things from Google proper, and unify them under the Alphabet umbrella. This was announced on August 10th, 2015 and while it wasn't apparent then, the logo for Alphabet looks familiar.
Someone over at Creative Bloq got it very right. Early in 2015, designers from all over Google (including folks from the Material Design team and Google's Creative Labs) met for a "design sprint" that addressed four challenges:
1. Make something scalable and be able to get the full feeling of the mark in tight spaces.
2. Incorporate dynamic, intelligent motion that responds to users in various stages of an interaction.
3. Make a system that will provide consistency in every encounter with anything Google.
4. Keep what makes Google "googley" and change what needs to be changed.
The result was the logo (and the accompanying G and dots) that we see now.
So, About This New Logo
After reading the post about the logo on Google's official design blog (which is a fantastic read), I think I get it.
The logo isn't there to be logo as we know a logo to be. While it is important for the graphic representation of a company to look good, designers and companies are realizing more are more that the logo isn't as important as non-designers tend to make it; it's the quality of products or services, themselves — the user experience — that really sells. At Pleth, it's obvious — anyone here will tell you that while a logo is important, we spend more time of all of the pieces and interpretations of that brand than on the logo itself. This is what Google's article is about, at its core. Google's article speaks about how the new logo makes Google more accessible (to people with differing needs, devices, and methods of access), simpler, and more delightful. I couldn't agree more.
The logo isn't really the logotype alone; it's just a piece. When combined with the dots, the uppercase G, animation, sound, and the overall experience that Google provides in search, the result is very interesting, delightful, and engaging. Watch the example.
The logo transcends what we know a traditional logo to do. It morphs. It listens. It acknowledges your input. It understands you. It thinks. It responds to you. It's not about the design, it's about the experience and implementation. And as people are stuck to their devices more and more, it's makes complete sense to utilize the full potential of such devices to make a product delightful. By meeting brands in the middle — somewhere between analog and digital — we actually make products more human.