Google revealed a new logo and the internet reacted exactly the way it reacts to change: mostly offer brickbats and barbs. Herewith my thoughts on the whole logo change saga and consumer reaction which follows:
We all hate change: a change in routine or a break from the familiar is an uncomfortable feeling always. Google operates in high-involvement categories on personal devices. There is a residual imagery of Google in our heads and that font is integral to it. No wonder a departure from that imagery makes us uncomfortable. A corollary of this attitude is the ‘those were the days’ syndrome applicable to anything we’ve experienced a decade or more ago.
Everyone has an opinion on advertising & creativity: advertising (and to an extent the entire ‘creative’ industry) is open to criticism. Since advertising is all pervasive, the chances of critiquing it are also high. In terms of output, logos are the low-hanging fruit with everyone having an opinion on the font to the symbol (if it has one). Fact is, logo or brand identity creation is a mix of ‘planning’ and intuition. The planning part involves studying consumer behaviour, market & design trends and the idea that needs to be communicated. The expression then is subjective based on the creative minds that creates it. Read about the new logo development here.
A scalable mark that could convey the feeling of the full logotype in constrained spaces.
The incorporation of dynamic, intelligent motion that responded to users at all stages of an interaction.
A systematic approach to branding in our products to provide consistency in people’s daily encounters with Google.
A refinement of what makes us Googley, combining the best of the brand our users know and love with thoughtful consideration for how their needs are changing.
Sometimes, the brand identity agencies go overboard in trying find a scientific reason or a rationale behind every element to the point where the explanation for a logo change can be comical.
Visibility drives acceptance: remember the ruckus after Airtel changed its logo? Fact is, no one’s complaining about it now. The reason: people see the Airtel logo almost everywhere – as signages in shops, in billboards, in bills, on phone screens and so on. Multiply that kind of advantage for Google many times over – we are going to see it on our home pages, search fields, app icons and more. People will start accepting and then liking it naturally.
Brand values continue, expressions change: there are some brand identities which haven’t changed much in decades. Take newspaper or magazine mast heads for example – they have a timeless quality about them. The TIME magazine mast head has seen tweaks over the decade but has retained the basic look all these years. The New York Times logo has perhaps not changed at all (?). But these brands have kept pace with time by changing the design offering subtly – be it a font change in the mast head or a layout change of a page and so on. The values they represent – solid, reliable, timeless perhaps demand that the changes be subtle and not radically different. USA Today too went through a change recently to reflect the changing ways in which we consume news across digital platforms. In my view, Google’s attempt is to keep it minimal, simple and reflects how consumers interact with the brand – through voice search etc.
One may not like the design (which is subjective) but given that it is Google – visible everywhere, it will soon become familiar and accepted. In that context, Gruber’s reaction is a bit extreme, I feel. What say?