You might think that Google came up with the formula for the perfect logo right from the get-go, but this could not be farther from the truth. In reality, Google applied the same old technique that all of us use whenever we are trying to achieve something: trial and error. As a result, the logo has gone through lots of revamps to reflect both the evolution of Google as a company and its increasing reach in society. Here is how Google’s logo evolved in the last two decades.
It might be hard to believe now, but back when what we know today as Google was still an ambitious experiment developed in a Stanford dorm room, it was called ‘’BackRub’’. Obviously, the bizarre black and white logo depicted a hand gently caressing a bare back. The name was chosen because the software analyzed the Internet’s ‘’backlinks’’, determining the value and importance of a website and at what level it was connected with others. Hence, the wordplay ‘’backrub’’. Fortunately, they realized that ‘’BackRub’’, while being sort of adequate and clever, did not have the staying power that they desired, so they switched to ‘’Google’’ before officially launching the platform.
1997 – 1998
The first design of the Google logo as we know it today was created around 1997. Just the image alone of the two co-founders of what will eventually become one of the biggest companies in the world pulling an all-nighter to conceive that logo in Microsoft Word could be the premise of a great Silicon Valley episode. Nevertheless, it demonstrates that everybody, even multinational corporations, have to start somewhere, and Google was no exception. In the founders’ defense, they never went public with that logo as their project was still in testing. Just before they launched the platform to the public in 1998, Sergey Brin revamped the logo using the image editing software GIMP.
1999 – 2010
1999 was an interesting year for the company’s logo, as it went through different revamps and experimental designs. This is the same year in which the company started playing with the color palette and added an exclamation mark at the end of the logo, in an attempt to mimic Yahoo!, their main competitor at the time. Furthermore, 1999 as also the year in which the company finally broke out of obscurity and was starting to become the unassailable tech force that we know today.
As a result, Google hired famous designer Ruth Kedar to help them design a logo that reflected their increasing influence in the world and the company’s admiration for innovation, creativity, simplicity and rule breaking.
Ruth Kedar agreed with the founders and tried to design a logo that appeared simple and bland on the surface, but gained a deeper meaning once you paid more attention to it. Kedar also took a few creative freedoms with the logo design and added drop shadow to make the letters stand out and create an optical illusion that makes the logo ‘’float’’ on the all-white background.
After many revamps and concept arts, Ruth Kedar finally came up with a design that the company stuck with until 2010. Instead of following industry protocols and adopting the Times New Roman font, she went with a different, although still professional-looking serifed font. This Google old logo font was inspired by Catull typeface, a font designed in 1982 by Gustav Jaeger for the Berthold Type Foundry.
When it comes to the color scheme, Kedder decide to opt for three primary colors (blue, red and yellow) and one secondary (green), but instead of placing them in order, they colored the ‘’L’’ letter in green, to further demonstrate that the company does not follow the rules. They put a lot of thought even in the shading and texture of each letter, which is done, in Kedar’s own words ‘’ in an unobtrusive way resulting in lifting it from the page while giving it both weight and lightness. It is solid, but there is also an ethereal quality to it.’’
In 2010, the logo saw a slight revamp that involved brightening up the colors and reducing the shadow. The typeface was almost identical to the one used for the previous logo, the main difference being that the previously yellow ‘’o’’ letter was more orange-colored. As minor as these changes were, it still constituted its first major overhaul since 1999, which is a big deal for a company such as Google that greatly values brand continuity.
Finally, 2013 was the year when the Google logo took the shape that we know and see now. The design became more ‘’flat’’, with a washed-up color palette and softer angles. In May 2014, the logo received a strange update – the ‘’g’’ letter was moved one pixel to the right, while the ‘’l’’ was repositioned two pixels down and one to the right. The change went almost unnoticed until a Reddit user pointed it out on /r/mildlyinteresting.
The last design change was implemented in September 2015. With this overhaul, the company tried to reflect the brand’s reach and presence on multiple platforms and tech sectors. While they stuck with the same washed-up color palette, the old font was replaced with a newer, more modern-looking geometric sans-serif typeface called Product Sans, which was created by its employees. Interestingly enough, the new font resembles the one used by Alphabet, Google’s parent company.
In the span of just 20 years, Google has become one of the, if not the most, influential company in the entire world. Therefore, it is no wonder why even its logo, probably the most recognizable and omnipresent logo in history, comes with so many interesting facts attached to it. Through it, Google wanted to emphasize the things that they value the most, which is innovation, creativity, and rule-breaking. While some people may not agree with all the changes, nobody can deny the fact that the people who were charged with designing it put a lot of thought of in it.