The brand Google is so popular, it’s pretty much become it’s own verb. We’re absolutely certain you know the search engine, and you’ve Googled before. In fact, Google are so popular that they have 4.3 billion users worldwide. Based on 4.72 billion internet users worldwide and a market share of 92.24%. It’s safe to say the brand is an absolute category king, so how did they get there? What can we learn from the branding techniques used by the incredibly talented designer of the Google logo, Ruth Kedar?
Google’s logo is an example of really simple, timeless and effective graphic design. The logo we see today has only been slightly adapted and tweaked to suit more modern tastes since it’s original design in 1999, which was when Ruth Kedar created the first concept of the logo we know so well today.
Interestingly, Google’s very first logo was in fact for the brand name ‘Backrub’, which was the original name for Google. The idea was that the whole purpose of the search engine was to search through backlinks from sites, so it was the original brand name chosen by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. We’re glad they did change it though, because ‘just backrub it’ certainly doesn’t seem to have the same ring as ‘just Google it’.
It was in 1998, when Ruth Kedar was working as an Art Director in the Stanford Art Department that she was first introduced to Larry Page and Sergey Brin through a mutual friend. At that point, Google wasn’t much more than a startup and the founders knew that their current logo definitely had room for some improvement.
So, Ruth Kedar got to work on a first concept for the Google logo. The very first logo Ruth designed was predominantly black, and it used the Adobe Garamond typeface. In an interview with Logo Geek, Ruth says ‘I really wanted to get a sense for who they were, the company that they were building, where they were building it for, what was their vision.’ The approach that Ruth Kedar took to designing the very first concept for the new and improved Google logo went far beyond a superficial logo that looked more modern, and it instead aimed to encompass everything that the brand stood for as well as the values of it’s founders.
It taught us the real power behind working with a designer that truly aims to understand and appreciate what your mission is as a brand, and that this is important regardless of whether it’s the logo of your brand or any other piece of marketing collateral that will represent your business and your team.
Ruth Kedar designed Google’s logo.
These were the early iterations: pic.twitter.com/ZY3rXfPWLL
— Jon Erlichman (@JonErlichman) June 26, 2021
In the next logo design by Ruth, we see the overlapping o’s and crosshair visuals to depict accuracy and this idea continued when Ruth introduced a nod to a magnifying glass, which in the end was deemed as a bit too visually complicated by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. In each concept, we can clearly see the way that Ruth skilfully inculcated the idea of accuracy and targeted searching through use of typography.
So, why in the end did we end up with the understated and classic Google logo that we’re familiar with today?
In the end, Ruth Kedar saw that using the magnifying glass and crosshair style visuals would not successfully present the brand as one that could in time encompass more than just a search engine. And how right she was! We know now that Google have gone on to become a tech giant that encompasses lots of different products, and the logo has been able to successfully represent the brand that entire time.
From the Google logo story, we learnt a few things. One, it’s ok to recognise you need a change of direction in branding! When Larry Page and Sergey Brin decided their logo needed updating and put the emphasis on creating a visual identity that more clearly reflected their brand’s mission, it lead the brand to grow into an internationally recognised category king. Of course a whole lot of other work went into achieving that, but that brand logo began a journey to success. So if you think your logo isn’t reflecting your brand successfully, it’s best to do something about it sooner rather than later.
In addition to that, we learnt the power of a simple logo that gives your brand room to grow. It’s tempting to get really niche with your logo, including specific iconography that advertises your service or goods. And whilst you absolutely do need a logo that communicates what you do at a glance, it’s good to find the happy medium so that if your brand ever decides to extend it’s value offer, you won’t need to invest into a completely new visual identity.