The Google Logo — Simple, Memorable, Practical

The Google logo is arguably the most recognized branding that uses only letters that one would find on a keyboard. Others might argue that it is Coca-Cola, Xerox, or KFC, but aside from perhaps Xerox, no branding has led to a company’s name being added to the English lexicon. One can say, “I’m going to google that when I get home,” and everyone knows what that means. This is not entirely due to the Google logo. The functionality of the Google search engine is probably more responsible for that, but Google’s logo is what makes the brand so recognizable and its simplicity is what allows the company to spend more effort and money on producing a higher quality product.

In 1997, when the search engine was first introduced, the logo was eye-catching, but wasn’t anything spectacular. At that time high-resolution computer graphics just were not possible without very expensive rendering equipment and software. Graphic and photo editing software was also very expensive. Since the company was just starting out, capital and budget constraints kept logo design at a low priority. Plus, with slower modem speeds, higher resolutions were not practical on the internet anyway. However, looking back at that first logo reveals that the general concept has remained the same over the years of its evolution.

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Today’s logo is so simple and minimalistic that one could recreate it with a simple word processor, so long as the word processor has the Google-created Product Sans font installed, which is freely available for download from Xamphyx. No other widely famous company logo can say that including Xerox, which uses an unavailable proprietary font.

Another thing that has made Google’s logo stand out are the doodles. Doodles are the little pictures that replace the logo on special occasions. For example, on December 21, 2012, Google replaced their logo with a doodle representing the end of the Mayan calendar (shown below). The clever thing about this doodle is that it is not just Google drawn out in a cool-looking, Mayan-esque block styling. Google explains that it is an actual representation of the date — December 21, 2012, of the 13th Baktun.

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According to Fine Print NYC, the concept of the doodle was spawned in 1996 as a sort of inside joke. The founders of the company, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, decided to put a stick figure behind the second “o” in the logo to let everybody know that they were out of the office. However, that was just a joke and it wasn’t until two years later that they began incorporating doodles into the logo with the first one created for Bastille Day. Since then more than 2000 doodles have been created and used.

Over the years, with the exception of the doodles, Google has followed the KISS principle when it comes to logo design — Keep It Simple and Stylish. In doing so, they have been able to funnel more money into creating better algorithms and offering other products, while still having a beautiful and memorable logo. The Google logo may change and evolve over the next 20 years, but one can bet that in 2036 it will still be as recognizable as it is today.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]