Coming Out (Again)

I have to admit something to you now that I’ve held inside for a long time because, well, I didn’t think it mattered very much and I was a little embarrassed about it. I mean, I know that you’re my friend and it won’t make a difference to you, probably, and even if it does we could probably still remain friends if we just don’t talk about this one thing, because I’m afraid I just can’t change this about me. It’s something I live with every day and it’s time I admitted the truth to you so we can get on with things and I no longer have to live a lie.
I hate Google’s logo.
A lot.


I have a hard time taking them seriously, I’m afraid. It’s ugly, it’s got a drop shadow, for crying out loud, and it’s multicolored like a circus tent. The first G looks weird, like someone was trying to draw a G but was using someone else’s memory of what a G looks like, the letters are oddly kerned, and the whole thing looks like it should be painted on the side of an ice cream truck.
I used to just shrug and try to get past it as quickly as possible, but now that they’re more than just a Web search engine and are branding that thing on top of all their other properties, I’m frankly sick of it and I don’t want it on my desktop.
I know. I know this shouldn’t matter. It’s just a logo, big deal, who cares if their products are good and they’re all free and you can zoom around the planet virtually and tilt your own neighborhood and search through everything on your computer or out on the Web, look inside textbooks, blah blah blah. But, thing is, it does matter, because it’s dumb looking.
Right? You can see it, right? Even if they’d just take off the 3D qualities and get rid of the drop shadow that would be a vast improvement. Keep the weird-ass G and the spacing and (shudder) the colors, and we’re almost to an acceptible logo. But as-is, I just can’t support that. I just can’t.
Looking at the Google logo, it says to me, “Hi! I’m not very bright and I love looking directly at the sun!” I think it’s supposed to be saying, “Hi! I’m fun and simple and let’s play!” But, um, there’s simple… and then there’s simple. And it’s leaning way too far over the fence into the realm of, to be completely politically incorrect for a moment, retarded.
When the site first appeared and all the cool kids were using it, I could forgive the logo. I thought, hmm, ugly and dumb but they’re just starting out and they’ll see the error of their ways and do something about that soon enough, get someone who knows a little about design and logos and suchlike to touch that sucker up, tighten the screws, slap a new coat of paint on the thing. I’m sure it’s like a temporary deal, something maybe that the owner drew on the back of a napkin or something.
But the intervening years have shown that they’re sticking with it. In all its awkward, dumb, retarded glory. I do enjoy when they fuck with it, of course. That shows some playfulness and that they like their own logo but they’re not married to it, they can alter it whimsically on occasion and pay tribute to, like, Mozart and Einstein and the Olympics and Linux and shit like that. Fun!
But please, someone, anyone, please. Fix that thing. Do something.
Sorry. I needed to say that. It’s hurtful, I know, and maybe a bit surprising and tacky to be so blunt, but I feel better now that that’s out of the way between us and life can go on.
Nachos, anyone?

August 22, 2005

35 responses to Coming Out (Again)

  1. Amber said:

    I wholeheartedly agree. Now that they are a reputable, publicly traded, huge and successful entity, I say it’s high time for a redesign. The kinder-care-ish logo ain’t cuttin’ it anymore, Google. For the love of God, hire some designers.

  2. Heck said:

    My goodness, how right you are. If they can’t come up with anything good, then a public design contest is in order, *now*… (I’d apply and encourage anyone I know to do so as well).

  3. Todd Hayen said:

    I don’t really think it’s that bad but I wouldn’t mind a redesign. As long as it stays simple.

  4. Royal Salt said:

    Change it? They took that thing to the moon and back, it’s here to stay
    …and soon to be on that fancy Motorola you carry and that glowing Sony orb in the living room.
    You can succumb to the domination or go hang with that Bill guy in Redmond gazing lustfully upon this Vista that he once owned.
    (Which by the way where has he gone?)
    And finally I will take the CrazyG logo over that insane Intel Big-Bon-Bang any day.
    πŸ˜‰

  5. Gordon said:

    Heh. Hope you feel better for “sharing”. I too have oft wondered why the chuff they were thinking.. I USED put it down to the whole small startup company thing. But that was in 1999 for chrissakes.
    I guess it’s an indication of their lack of “graphic design” and “simplicity” but as you rightly say, we don’t want a company to pretend is as simple as cousin Ahab and his in-bred brothers!

  6. tim said:

    i like the logo. it is old school

  7. Tommy Cutter said:

    I don’t mind the logo. A change would be nice, but the bright primary colors is kind of their trademark.

  8. John said:

    Why would they change it? Everyone instantly recognizes it. It would take a huge amount of effort to have the same logo recognition all over again. I don’t think it’s going anywhere.

  9. Gaurav said:

    Yeah, I agree with John. Even though it could do with rework, nobody is gonna touch one of the most recognized logos on the internet. And I doubt the investors would ever bring up a lousy logo in the board meeting πŸ™‚

  10. Y’know, I only noticed the drop shadow now. I’m usually pretty oblivious to logo’s i have to say, and after reading this and looking at the home page I suddenly realise what a gift that is.

  11. Lyle said:

    I agree, it’s a dumb and simplistic logo. However, I think it’s the simplistic bit that is meant to apply – let’s face it, Google is simple to use, and I suspect that the logo was meant to replicate/emphasise that.
    Of all the logos I loathe (and there’s a few, I can’t deny it) Yahoo!’s one is probably still top of my list. I hate it, the way the text goes up and down, and that goddam ! on the end just adds to the irritation.
    Depressingly, out of the big 3 search engines ( Google, Yahoo, MSN) MSN’s logo is the least irritating. I just use Google with images switched off though – the best of the available options. *grin*

  12. I dont understand what the problem with the logo is. It does look good.
    Also like john put it everyone instantly recognizes it and to effect a change may be costly.

  13. kent said:

    Not sure if there been any studies on logo changes and correlatable performance changes of the common stock, but a few ones come to mind — Xerox changed their logo to a “crumbling X” just prior to a crumbling stock price. Enron’s crooked E prescienced it’s internal cultural shift and ATT’s unraveling world logo signaled a quickened, err … unraveling within. A less anectodal observation or study between company performance and logo design would probably yield no correlations — but might prove nonetheless interesting. I don’t know anything about marketing, but would people really use Google’s services (or click through their advertisements) more if they changed the logo?

  14. I sort of with Kent on this. When companies change their logo or identity its usually for only two reasons. 1) they’re coming out of infancy or 2) they’re going into decline.

  15. Dan Sroka said:

    The irony of the Google logo is that it is a posterchild for bandwidth-wasteful design. For a company that tries to brand themselves as a streamlined, just-the-facts, web-savvy place, their logo is a mess, web-graphics-wise. The use of multiple colors, the gradations, the dropshadow and the large dimensions all make a graohic that is a whopping 8.5K. I know this sounds small, but when you are talking about the number of times that logo gets downloaded, it’s huge. Compare this to the Yahoo! logo on their main page, which is 1.9K. Google’s brand is out of whack.
    Do logo changes correlate to stock declines? Yes, often a failing company will try anything, including rebranding, to save themselves. But there are many more instances of successful rebranding. This think is, when rebranding is done correctly, you should barely notice it happening. The logo just starts to change, and become more like what it should’ve been all along. Think of Apple’s, CocaCola’s, and Nike’s subtle shifts over time.

  16. Jim said:

    If Google made their logo slicker, more people would begin to realise the company for what they truly are: An advertising agency. The logo is a slight of hand meant to be vernacular and non-threatening, and to suggest simplicity, when what is behind that mostly-white page is anything but simple, technology-wise and socio-economically.
    The logo also tries to perpetuate the story of two Stanford dropouts, when the reality is that the company now employs scores of Ph.D.s and other very smart and driven people.

  17. That may be, but it’s better by far than anything on this page:
    http://www.google.ca/intl/en/customlogos.html

  18. Mr. B said:

    Google’s “logo” is rather the perfect example of the anti-logo that yet somehow becomes successful in its own right. I mean, any dumbass could have done that in Photoshop in 2 minutes! (and that’s probably how it was done).
    What does Google prove with this? That all the fancy talk about branding and corporate imaging designers love to beat themselves off to ain’t worth shit – if the company doesn’t live up to its promises. For years, Google’s focus has been on delivering the best possible search experiences, not becoming a fashionable icon. If you have a good service, it practically sells itself, and that breeds popularity – which explains a lot why Google won’t get rid of its fugly logo anytime soon. For better or worse, it’s already turned into a highly recognizable icon.
    This makes for an interesting discussion – which part of the success equation of a given company does design *really* counts on?

  19. Lance said:

    A lot of interesting and good points made on the positive side for those who like the logo as-is, but I can’t leave a debate without retort, so: The argument that it’s “old school” and that simplistic is a good indicator of one of Google’s goals aren’t really apt. The fact that you notice those things plays against it. The audience is too smart to be fooled by things like that, if that is in fact the intent of those decisions. “If we make the logo look amaturish and simple-minded, they’ll think of the company that way!” But we both know the company isn’t that way. Neither are their products. They’re a very smart, savvy, interesting, progressive company. The logo is counterproductive to those notions and no longer fits.
    The bigger question, and one that Mr. B touches on, is to what extent a brand is defined by the company as opposed to being defined by the customers. Google obviously cares what its customer thinks of it, even though (and this may be the most salient point) its customers actually provide it no direct compensation. When I use any Google property, I pay nothing for the priviledge. I use Google maps, Google Earth, Gmail, and the search site nearly daily and they’re all free to me, but if I stop using them, Google loses my set of eyes and the related ad revenue it relies on to survive.
    Perhaps my gripe isn’t that the logo is ugly (even though I must maintain that it is, decidedly so) but that I feel used by the company because it’s trying to convince me it’s this little corner store with a hand-drawn awkward looking logo but I know it’s a multi-billion dollar corporation with shareholders and BMWs in the parking lot. And I need to figure out why that bothers me at all.

  20. Kaweh said:

    I don’t really give a crap what the logo looks like, as long as the search engine works.
    I also use Gmail, but that is about as far as my google usage goes (to my knowlegde).
    Why on earth should I want to use their maps service or any of the other stuff, as long as there are other software or services available that are simpler, also free and do the job just as well?

  21. jacobo said:

    why google has the same microsoft logo colors ?
    check out
    http://www.25pixels.com/googlesoft.html

  22. rakesh said:

    The new logo for Google Talk seems to be cleaner — Lance, does it redeem your opinion of Google’s aesthetic sensibilities at all?

  23. Lyle said:

    I don’t think the logo necessarily says “look at us, we’re simple-minded and cuddly and a little bit amateurish” – well, it might.
    I think that the image was more to do with “Google is a simple search engine” (well, simple to use, anyway) ” and our logo reflects that”.
    A portrayal of the search-engine, rather than the company.
    But hey, I could be wrong. It’s hardly the first time, after all.

  24. Dan said:

    The thing that gets me is the colour progression in the letters of the logo.
    (for the faint of memory: blue, red, yellow, blue, green, red)
    There’s no apparent logic to it. I could live with any of the following options:
    1. Matching a colour to a letter (which happens with the “g” but not the “o”)
    2. A consistent progression (pick a pattern and stick with it)
    3. A different colour for each letter (to go with the whole “7 letters” and “7 superstitiously-derived demarcations in the visible light spectrum” things)
    4. A different logo colour each time you used the page (either single colour or random – this would be stupid & bandwidth intensive but geeky & potentially metaphorical)
    The current state of affairs simply fills me with self-hating frustration every time I think about it – there’s no pattern that I can see, but the people at Google are so much smarter than I am that there may very well be one buried in there somewhere.

  25. peterme said:

    Um.
    You ever seen a site called http://www.ebay.com/ ?

  26. rfgunning said:

    Yeah, ebay has terrible design sense. Amazon’s was horrible, too, but the site has gotten a little more designerly lately, to it’s detriment, I think. All the best sites have the worst ‘graphic design’, it seems. Interesting, that.

  27. Forest Pines said:

    It might look bad now, but it genuinely did look worse when Google first started out.
    http://web.archive.org/web/19981202230410/http://www.google.com/

  28. I could stand the Google logo, being around for so many years it vanished into mental unobtrusiveness during this period.
    But: GMail’s logo is worse, and this was done lately. Who on earth would embed a letter icon that way, after her sixth birthday?

  29. susie said:

    Geez, can’t you find something better to slam? Google has a great logo. I love it. The logo is one of the best. Conversely, let’s all get arial #000000 fonts and bang our heads together…

  30. Gene said:

    I agree — simply horrible logo. But hey, Palatino came on all those computers, you know?
    I applied for the job of Google Creative Director a few months ago. Never heard from them, but then I realized that such a job probably consists of sitting around doing nothing, judging from their visual branding…

  31. Dino said:

    Come on, people! Where is your sense of humour, reality, playfulness? Take it easy, come down and all your nightmares will go away.

  32. out of the loop said:

    It’s been many moons since I was a web designer. Drop shadows are no good nowadays? Or just when it comes to logos? Please, please tell me what’s wrong with drop-shadows, Lance! Is it just because they’re so easy to create with newer graphics software that there’s no challenge anymore and they’ve become ubiquitous? You’ve got a drop shadow for the white area of your site. Please tell me what the heck you mean about the drop shadow issue. I’ve always found the Google logo kind of cute I admit and I like when they do different things with it for special occasions and holidays. I am a sucker for cute graphics I’m afraid. I’ll admit it. But I don’t have a dial-up connection so I tend to forget about how long a logo might take to download until I go to a site where you can’t get anywhere else in the site until the entire graphic blob of a site map loads. I do, however, hate the color progression of Google’s logo, as Dan does, though it doesn’t trouble me to the extent it does Dan. I don’t think there’s a secret hidden pattern. I think the designer just likes bright colors and used them randomly. I agree with Dan’s suggestions for how it should have been done but I guess we’ll get no satisfaction on that point.
    This is a nice, light discussion in the face of all the disaster plaguing the world of late.

  33. Paul Harvey said:

    Has anyone noticed Google have put a ‘7’ instead of ‘L’ in the logo – what’s that all about guys?

  34. TOM said:

    Could have been worse: See the logos they went through before they got to this one:
    CLICKY