The Historic Evolution of the Google Logo and its Significance

Google is, without a doubt the most popular search engine in the world with multi-language support. It has also produced a host of other products, including Android phones, cloud databases, and AI tools. With approximately 3.5 billion searches every day, it’s quite obvious that the average person will see the Google logo anywhere between one and thirty times per day. Throughout its several changes in the last two decades, the Google logo has remained strikingly simple and easy to memorize. 

Google was initially launched in 1995 as BackRub and then renamed in 1997 as Google, a name derived from the word “Googol”, meaning a large number. After rebranding to Google, the company adopted a simpler logo in 1998 that had the word “Google” in multicolor. Save for the initial two years when the brand had a different name and logo, its visual identity has remained very much constant. Its simplicity and brilliance made the logo iconic and instantly relatable. Here is a detailed timeline of the Google logo evolution over the years. 

History of Iconic Google Logo

1996: The Earliest Google Logo

BackRub - The earliest Google logo in 1995

The search engine’s first logo didn’t feature the name “Google.” Larry Page and Sergey Brin initially named their company as “BackRub.” They chose this name because the search engine’s main purpose was to scroll through the internet’s back links. Gradually, by 1997, they’d changed the company’s name to “Google” – a word derived from “googol”, which literally means 10 to the 100th power in Latin. The main reason behind choosing this name was that Google could readily provide users with a huge amount of information in a short span of time.

1998: The First (real) Google Logo

Google logo in 1998

Although the first Google logo was designed in 1997, it was used only for the beta version and became a precursor to all the next logo designs. The first official logo was created in 1998, featuring a title case inscription with each letter drawn in red, green, blue, or yellow. The wordmark was executed in a transitional serif typeface, Baskerville Bold.

A little fun fact: A blue exclamation sign was added (later in the same year) to Google’s rebranded logo and stayed there for a while. It was supposedly done in line with Yahoo!’s logo, which also had this punctuation. The inscription gained a three-dimensional effect and a light gray shadow.

1999-2010: Google Logo Designs by Ruth Kedar

Google logo design by Ruth Kedar

By 1999, Google was already a renowned Search Engine that allowed users to find anything or resolve any query in a flash. It was already trying to secure a position among the top 5 brands in the world. In 1999, a mutual friend of Brin and Page introduced them to Ruth Kedar – the Stanford assistant professor, who created a few prototypes for a new logo design.

She gave a 2D shape to the existing design, together with the new typeface — the Catull BQ serif font, featuring elegant bold lines and sharp serifs. Another unique feature of the wordmark was a minor inclination of both the letters “O” to the left. While she removed the exclamation mark in the original logo, the color palette remained intact.

Now Kedar turned a bit more playful and experimented with different colors and two interlocking Os. Brin and Page thought that the crosshairs and the magnifying glass design was a little visually overwhelming.

The following designs look similar to the Google logo we know today. They looked younger and quirkier than their precedents. Kedar made the letters pop up with bolder lines and shadowing. The eighth design appeared the simplest of all. Kedar wanted to show Google’s potential to go beyond just being a search engine (hence the omission of the magnifying glass). She also replaced the traditional order of the primary colors with random colors to reemphasize Google’s modern outlook. This version’s colors and the slanted letters make it look youthful and energetic than the previous versions.

The final design is one of the simplest yet most appealing of all. This was Google’s official logo from 1999 to 2010. In May, 2010, Google once again revised its logo, changing the color of the letter “o” from yellow to orange and eliminating the drop shadowing.

Revised Google logo in 2010

2015: Brand New Google Logo

Brand new Google logo in 2015

In the year 2015, Google felt that its logo needed a brush-up. Expert designers from various cities gathered in New York for a week-long venture to design a new logo and brand image for the IT stalwart. In the redesigned logo of 2015, the lettering retained its predecessor’s multicolor pattern, although the style and shape of the letters were completely different.

The new inscription features a bold sans-serif typeface created exclusively for Google, which is called Product Sans. The former inclined style of the letters “O” in the lettermark was replaced with two regular circles.

Google’s designers also made multiple variations of the logo to be used across a range of platforms, for example the rainbow “G” typically used on the brand’s mobile apps. The change from a serif to a sans-serif font made it easier for Google’s designers to modify the design according to different broadcasting platforms, particularly mobile. Serif fonts are usually known to have scaling issues due to the little serifs/glyphs at the edges of each letter.

When rendered in various small sizes, they have more legibility issues than their sans-serif counterparts. The new logo was also designed to appear fresher, quirkier, and more relatable. In other words, Google wanted its users to perceive them as a cool tech company, rather than a gigantic tech corporation to be scared of.

A Dynamic Logo

Google’s new logo is also dynamic. This means, when you begin a voice search on your Smartphone or tablet, you see the Google dots bouncing while waiting for your query. As you give your voice input, these dots settle into an equalizer that responds to your query. The equalizer transforms into dots that ripple as Google provides the search result.

According to a Google design team blog post, “A full range of expressions were developed including listening, thinking, replying, incomprehension, and confirmation”. While their bouncing might seem spontaneous, their movement is in line with consistent paths and timing; the dots move along fixed geometric arcs and follow a typical set of snappy easing curves.

The Launch and Growth of the Google Doodle

In 1998, Google introduced the Google Doodle – a temporary variation of the traditional Google logo. Interestingly, this happened before the company was technically even a brand. Page and Sergey were attending the Burning Man festival. As an “out of office” message, they used a stick figure drawing behind the logo’s second O.

With the passage of time, the details and variety of the featured doodles increased. In 2000, Sergey and Brin asked then-intern Dennis Hwang to design a doodle for Bastille Day. The doodle became so popular that they appointed Dennis as the “chief doodler.” Google doodles are often used to celebrate holidays and birthdays of famous artists, scientists, and other important people. 

Initially, the Google doodles were used to commemorate well-known occasions, like Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and Holi (in India). As time went by, they became more creative, versatile, and global. 

A team meets periodically to decide which special events, topics, or personalities get to be the subject of the doodles. Doodle ideas are also welcome from Google users. Once an idea or doodle idea gets the approval, it’s designed by Google illustrators and engineers. According to a report in 2015, Google confirmed that they’d launched over 2,000 doodles for different platforms around the world. Although Google didn’t share any recent stats on its doodles, it’s reported that they’d reached more than 4,000 by 2016.

Google continued to work on doodles using a verified Twitter account, specially created to update its audience about their inventive and newly-published doodle designs. There are over 127,000 followers of this account. As people and technology evolve, we expect to see a new version of Google’s logo design in a few years.

What do the Colors in the Google Logo Mean?

Hex colors code of Google logo

Although Google frequently changes its logo on the website’s homepage to commemorate certain important days and events in history, its primary logo has remained pretty constant. It’s a simple, colorful, immediately relatable design that has been in use since Larry Page first designed the logo in 1997 with the graphics program GIMP.

There have been several different iterations of the design since then, but the color palette has remained pretty much same. So, is there any special significance of these colors used in the Google logo? Let’s see what important message they convey.

Google’s logo colors are a unique and integral part of the company’s visual identity. If you study Google’s logo evolution over the years, you’ll notice that most of them have the same range of colors. Aside from making the brand more popular and use-friendly, these hues have a different purpose. Ruth Kedar is the person who originally chose the colors for the logo design.

Ruth brainstormed a range of color options. Initially, she wanted the logo to have all the primary colors. This was done with a purpose to make the Google logo color more relatable for people from any background. The team decided to give a secondary color to the “l” in the Google logo to convey a message- Google is always pushing new boundaries.

The double Os in the Google logo are

Red: Hex: #db3236 RGB: 219, 50, 54
Yellow: Hex: #f4c20d, RGB: 244, 194, 13

The logo’s color code was chosen specifically to highlight the company’s quirky and out-of-the-box thinking. Google wanted its logo to convey the idea of modern creativity and transformation, subtly but efficiently.

Google Logo Font

On September 1, 2015, the technology giant gave the biggest makeover to its logo since 1999. This new logotype is made using a custom, geometric sans-serif typeface called Product Sans, as a substitute to the previous old style serif typeface Catull. It was a welcoming change to the age-old serif font, intended to be bolder, more legible, and pixel friendly. It’s dynamic and suitable for all screen resolutions.

Google uses the same logo fonts across the Google ecosystem as well. You can see the bold typeface logo in the form of the favicon Google uses for its mobile app and websites. The same custom font can be seen in the Google + logo, and the Google Maps logo.

The consistent use of the Product Sans font along with Google’s use of the same font colors in its branding materials helps make the company readily memorable for its customers. Every part of the logo has been designed to be extremely catchy, user-friendly, and relatable.

Besides the logo redesign, Google has also revised its icon, its favicon, and the previous small bule “g” is replaced with a four-colored “G” set in Product Sans.

“White” Emblems

During times of emergency or great tragedy, Google often uses a clean, colorless logotype. They have used several “white” logos till date. In every instance, the “white” logotype looks exactly as the regular one, with only a different color scheme. While the previous colorless logos had a 3D effect, the existing one, including the 2013 version, is without it.

Google Plus Logo

The Google Plus logo shares similarity with the uppercase “G” as seen in many other Google’s products (for example, Google Search). Both the letter “G” and the plus sign are in white, neatly placed inside a circle with a red background. The logotype has a dimensional look due to the shade effect. Interestingly, the combination of red and white colors and the “+” symbol make the Google Plus logo look similar to the Red Cross logo, although the colors are swapped there.

Google Play Logo

The Google Play logo underwent several modifications since the online store’s name changed from Android Market to Google Play in 2012. Although the logo’s triangular shape has remained intact since the beginning, there has been some experimentation with the colors and the wordmark. The revised icon of April 2016 features bolder, saturated colors. The emblem has a flat look.

Final thoughts on Google logo

Google is indubitably one of the most powerful businesses across the world, and its influence will only get better with time. Although the company had its fair share of unexpected decisions, for instance Motorola Mobile’s acquisition in 2013, its massive success as a search engine and tech solutions provider has made up for all the previous mistakes. With its bright, quirky, and easy-to-read letters, the Google logo is definitely one of the most instantly recognizable icons across the world.

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The Historic Evolution of the Google Logo and its Significance
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