Evolution of Google’s logo and the possible science behind it

An interesting analysis of a logo that possibly the whole world recognizes – the Google logo! This article tracks the evolution of Google logo’s over the years and the possible scientific reasons that helped make it so familiar to the public eye.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Logo design may look simple, but nowadays the best logos are those which blend artistry with science!

The basic principles for making a perfect logo are to capture attention, inspire trust, be immediately recognizable, generate a positive response, convey the brand and its niche’s meaning, and to create a long-lasting memory.

This is what the Google logo excels in! It is simple, has attention-grabbing colors and is easy to remember.

Over the years, due to constant innovation and AI-based research, Google has perfected their logo due to its attention to simplicity and has also added scientific rigor to make it one of the most recognizable logos on this planet!

Let’s see how Google’s logo has evolved over the years with a little help from science!

Just a heads up. Google wasn’t really Google in the beginning; it had a really eerie name when it all began in 1995 within the dorm room of Sergey Brin and Larry Page (Google’s founders) at Stanford University. It was called ‘Backrub’ LOL!

The name Google came up when Sean Anderson a graduate student at Stanford suggested “googolplex”, but Larry found “googol”. However, some theories suggest that during domain registration, they accidentally searched for google.com and liked it better.

September 15, 1997, to September 27, 1998 It was simple yet ugly WordArt where the letters weren’t even visible! No wonder, they changed the logo within 13 days! Yeah, the ‘science’ part will be cleared after this timeline of events. Have patience!

September 28, 1998, to October 29, 1998A new logo was conceptualized in the Baskerville Bold font with a drop-shadow to add emphasis, but had a less-appealing color combination and looked really dull.

October 30, 1998, to May 30, 1999Sergey used a simple and free graphics program called GIMP in which he made the ‘Google’ logo (with Adobe Garamond font) that looks a lot like the one we see today. It had an exclamation mark in the end which seemed to mimic the ‘Yahoo!’ logo of Yahoo.

There was a deeper shadow and the letters became more rounded. The color sequence was the biggest change here (The G transitioned from green to blue and is still used this way!).

May 31, 1999, to May 5, 2010 – Enter Ruth Kedar, a professional artist cum designer who gave a major overhaul to the Google logo which was used until September 1, 2015, with minor tweaks being made along the way. In the first instance, the exclamation mark was removed and the typeface was changed to Catull.

 May 6, 2010, to September 18, 2013Ruth improved her design by reducing the drop-shadow and its distance from the actual typeface which gave the logo a very aristocratic feel. Moreover, the second ‘o’ got a richer yellow compared to the previous one.

September 19, 2013, to August 31, 2015The era of flat icon design arrived. Ruth did away with the shadows altogether and the lettering became more flattened with Sans Serif font.

September 1, 2015A custom geometric font Product Sans was developed for the logo inspired by the Sans-serif style. This is the logo you see now.


The Science behind it all!

The science of visualization

  • As you can see, the logo has undergone many different color iterations. They finally chose to use primary colors – simplest of colors which are the easiest to identify by our eyes. These unique highly saturated hues: red, yellow, green and blue tend to have a far more visual/psychological impact on a person’s mind due to their immediate visibility.
  • Ruth Kedar, the graphic designer who weaved the magic, said “There were a lot of different color iterations. We ended up with the primary colors, but instead of having the pattern go in order, we put a secondary color on the L, which brought back the idea that Google doesn’t follow the rules.”
  • The first few Google server racks were built from Lego bricks and the bricks had assortments of colors of which these colors (red, yellow, blue and green) were the most-used ones!

The Science of Business Development

  • Designers at the quickly growing company wanted to select a pattern that could convey the idea that Google is as acceptable and recognizable as the primary colors that are taught to each and every one at some point in their lives!
  • Google wanted people to know that they are more focused on their mission and vision while trying to break away from the traditional pattern of developing a database of the web by accepting simplicity as their core value.
  • As the logo was developing over the years, the shadows were there to give the logo an ethereal quality to it.

The science of User Experience Development

  • Flat design was introduced to boost interoperability across all devices Google caters to. The soft angles and shadow-less design made it easier to read on screens with smaller sizes.
  • The current logo has pushed the vibrancy limit of the colors red, green, and yellow in order to make the colors look more saturated and pop-up from the background.

The Science of Economics

  • Free fonts were used. By using free fonts, Google was always free to use and reuse the design without any limitations. Smart economics used (economics is a science too).
  • From GIMP to free fonts and to be able to provide almost all of their services for free to their customers, Google always chose the ‘free for all’ path. Be it their email, Android SDK or social media platform, a major reason why Google is so popular is that it’s always free!

Google has grown leaps and bounds over the years, but one thing has remained constant – their simplicity! As we said, logos are meant to be simple yet create a memory and command attention. The Google logo has done it all since it began.

It may have gone through redesigns and tweaks numerous times, but you need to understand that perfection takes time to achieve! Google’s logo always speaks of its two main ambitions – simplicity and the aim to index the entire web!


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