Weeks after a corporate restructure, Google has made the biggest change to its logo in 16 years, adopting a sans-serif typeface for a cleaner look that is also more practical for multi-platform use.
Google introduced the change via an animated doodle on its search page.
What is immediately clear is the lack of serifs – the small, decorative lines attached to the end of the letters.
There’s a bit of a religious argument in design over whether serif or sans-serif (literally, ‘without serif’) typefaces are easier to read on the web.
But there are a number of reasons why Google has made the change.
Gizmodo breaks down some of the design reasons to switch to sans-serif, including that the logo scales better on the range of screen sizes from where Google services are now consumed, and that the new logo chews up far less bandwidth to load.
And Google’s own design team shed further light on the size advantages of its new sans-serif font.
Users connecting to Google over low-bandwidth links previously saw a slightly different logo than those on higher-bandwidth connections – mainly because the old logo was around “14,000 bytes” in size.
The company has now been able to build “a special variant of our full-colour logo that is only 305 bytes".
“The old logo, with its intricate serifs and larger file size, required that we serve a text-based approximation of the logo for low bandwidth connections,” Google Design said.
“The new logo’s reduced file size avoids this workaround and the consistency has tremendous impact when you consider our goal of making Google more accessible and useful to users around the world, including the next billion.”
It’s not just the full ‘Google’ logo that has been redesigned but also the shortened blue ‘g’, which has been replaced by a four-colour capital ‘G’.
The new design appeared to be well-received by branding experts.
“They’ve almost taken a step toward Sesame Street with this change,” Landor Associates’ North American region chairman Allen Adamson told Bloomberg.
“It feels far less corporate and far more friendly. And I think for any tech brand, the friendlier and more approachable it can be, the better - because it just feels easier to use.”
Co.Design magazine noted the change “isn’t groundbreaking—no creative directors will be scrambling to update their brands—but it’s tasteful, flexible, and most importantly, very much Google.”
“Like any new logo, Google’s latest creation will look odd for the first minute or so. But all you have to do is go back and look at the old—okay, yesterday’s—sans serif logo to see, yeah, it really was time for an update,” the magazine said.
One thing that had designers and technology commentators abuzz was a photo that appeared to reveal other logo design candidates.
Google Design said it kicked off the redesign process at an “intense, week-long design sprint” in New York earlier this year.
“With the cutting room floor littered with hundreds of hours of design work, we set out with a few directions that excited us,” the design team said.
“We [then] shared the thinking with teams across the organisation.”
In a more general blog post, Google said the new logo “isn’t the first time we’ve changed our look and it probably won’t be the last”.
“But we think today’s update is a great reflection of all the ways Google works for you across Search, Maps, Gmail, Chrome and many others,” it said.
“We think we’ve taken the best of Google (simple, uncluttered, colourful, friendly), and recast it not just for the Google of today, but for the Google of the future.”