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New Google Logo – what does it say about the brand?


Google has not only succeeded in being the most recognised brand globally but its name has also become a verb for how to search for something online; rather like Hoover the vacuum cleaner brand. Hoover came to represent not only all brands of vacuum cleaners (even today) but also the verb to clean with any mechanical device; such is the power of an innovative and successful brand.

Now, regardless of how the Google logo is presented visually, its brand is ingrained in the fibre of our very being. Just to hear its name is enough to conjure up in our minds what the brand stands for: its attributes, features and benefits but, does the new logo accurately visualise what the brand represents? That said, others will argue that a logo exists simply to identify a business in its simplest form via the use of a mark or icon and that it is the brand that is more important, so why such furore over the new logo?

On seeing the new logo, our initial impression was, to put it politely…what has happened here? We are not convinced that they needed a refresh at this present time. Their logo which was only a few years old, was clean (un fussy), distinct, memorable and fit for purpose – from a customer point of view of course, but as we will learn the decision behind the rebrand has nothing to do with us as a consumer.

As we are all aware, the Google logo was their name in a serif font in primary colours, but it was simple, subtle and instantly recognisable. The old Google colours remain but the new logo uses a sans serif font. It also replaces the little blue “g” icon with a four colour capital “G” that matches the logo.

Apparently, the new logo aims not just to tell consumers that they’re using Google but how. This change comes after Google rebranded to Alphabet (a silent holding company) as part of a radical corporate overhaul that involved separating its internet operations including Android, YouTube and the Google search engine from its less well known research divisions including X Lab and its health business.

But no matter how long we look at the new logo, we can’t see what it means – it looks too simplistic, almost infantile, as though it is reaching out to 5 year olds rather than communicating to its global customer base how the company has evolved over the past 17 years. But it appears that there is more behind the re-brand that just the refreshed logo.

Can you see the Google magic working?
In a Google post, they state that: “People interact with Google products across many different platforms, apps and devices. (We do not disagree with that observation and this is not unique to Google). You expect Google to help you whenever and where you need it. We’re introducing a new logo and identity that reflects the reality of the new family and shows you when the Google magic is working for you”.

Is that really what the new logo device is saying? If so, then we missed the message completely. But that is the point. If you do not understand why this has come about, it is because you do not need to understand why.

As Google has grown and diversified, the sheer size and scope of its mission demanded a more efficient and structured approach, hence the re-brand. Professor Mark Ritson explains why: “It doesn’t matter that Alphabet sounds generic, the brand will be visible only to employees and investors and give Google’s many sub-brands the freedom of their own organisational cultures.

“Googles new house of brands will encourage and facilitate innovation which is vital to the company’s future success. Having one dominant brand, like Google, tends to stifle different approaches and organisational sub-cultures. Alphabet’s new structure will allow Google to do things in a Google way. In addition, with many eggs in the house of brands basket, Alphabet will be much less vulnerable to major scandal or impropriety”.

New logo aside, Google acknowledges that it has been wildly inconsistent as a brand over the years and this has hampered the affection and loyalty it has tried to develop with its customers, which of course cannot be resolved overnight with a new logo, and a deeply uninspiring one at that.

However, as hopefully explained, the logo device in this instance is simply Google doing things their way and how it is perceived is not going to interest them in the slightest. What their logo means is more important than what it looks like, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

So, what makes a great and inspiring logo?

Direct approach design logo design
First and foremost what is required is an understanding of your company’s brand essence, which evolves from your company values; then a well written design brief that details what the new logo needs to communicate alongside your goals and aspirations for the company.

Once this is in place, you need to find a marketing agency with strategic branding experience who can translate a well written brief into a creative masterpiece. A logo should not literally describe what the business does but rather, identify the business in a way that is recognisable and memorable. Well, it is actually a lot more involved than that, as is building and positioning a brand, but that’s a blog post for another day.

If you are looking to refresh your logo, need help with positioning your brand or developing a design brief for a branded communication piece, please give the creative team at Direct Approach a call or email us at: