I remember when I first started using Google as my primary search engine, back in the late 90s (replacing Alta Vista — which pretty much just withered away). I liked Google because, in that day of scarce bandwidth, their search page loaded quickly: it was was nice, and simple, and empty, and white.
But, as designers, my compatriots and I always considered Google, with its primary-colored and rather rudimentary typeface — especially back in 1998, to be the inferior stepchild to Apple, with the sophisticated and intelligent design that obviously went into their software products. Google got stuff done, but looked amateurish doing it. Apple, we thought, was far superior because they got stuff done while looking great and making it easy for the user.
When Google announced their updated brand and logo this week, I was intrigued by the press coverage. The logo definitely looked better, more sophisticated and more modern. But when I read through Google’s own description of their design process (a very good read and one I highly recommend for anyone, designer or not, who has ever been involved with logo decisions), I was thoroughly impressed with the level of design thinking that went into the rebrand. There was obviously a great deal of strategy behind how Google thought about the logo in multiple sizes and usages, and how they planned ahead for lockups with many different brand extensions.
This is nothing new. We’ve done the same thing for our clients for years: planning color breaks for various media types, considering type weight for different usages, trying to plan for eventualities, knowing we’d probably miss something and hoping the logo would be flexible enough to allow for growth.
But what really intrigued me was the thought put into the moving digital components of the brand. Who knew that four simple bouncing spheres could mean so much? (Did you know they have stated actions for different states of interaction with the user? Listening, thinking, replying, confirming, confusion and voice recognition each get their own, very logical animation.)
Whether you particularly care for Google’s revised brand or not (I, for one, think it’s a huge step forward), you have to credit the Google design team for the strategy behind the new logo, for their thinking so thoroughly about all the platforms on which the brand will be experienced and for so transparently sharing the design process.