Ushahidi: Crowdsourcing Crisis Information

Monday, February 1, 2010

Logolysis of Google

The Story of how Google got its colorful logo!

In just a few short years, Google's logo has become as recognizable as Nike's swoosh and NBC's peacock. Ruth Kedar, the graphic designer who developed the now-famous logo, shows the iterations that led to the instantly recognizable primary colors and Catull typeface that define the Google brand. Kedar met Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page through a mutual friend nine years ago at Stanford University, where she was an assistant professor. Page and Brin, who were having trouble coming up with a logo for their soon-to-launch search engine, asked Kedar to come up with some prototypes.

Google No. 1
Typeface: Adobe Garamond

"It was very clear from the very beginning that they wanted to go with a logotype as opposed to just a logo," Kedar says. With this first version, Kedar wanted to keep the majority of the text untouched so the legibility was still intact, while adding some playfulness by bringing primary colors and two-dimensionality to the Os. The pattern here was used to visually imply that something goes on ad infinitum. According to Kedar, "Brin and Page liked this because it looks a bit like a Chinese finger trap."

Google No. 2
Typeface: Catull

Instead of working with the two Os and creating something larger in terms of space and pattern, Kedar modified just one letter to make it multidimensional. This design ended up being part of the basis for the multiple Os at the bottom of Google's search results page. The cross hairs reference both target and precision. Brin and Page wanted to clearly differentiate Google from competing search engines and convey that the service was a search provider first and foremost, with an algorithmically complex yet simple-to-use application, Kedar says.

Google No. 3
Typeface: ITC Leawood

"I look at this now and think, 'Google has gone to the Olympics,'" Kedar says through a laugh. The interlocking rings are a metaphor for far-reaching searches that involve different cultures and different countries. "It's funky and clunky, and those were the things we were exploring at the time," she says.

Google No. 4
Typeface: Catull 

All the letters in this design are uppercase, giving it a more corporate and solid feel, but by changing the letters' sizes and adding colors, Kedar keeps the logo playful. The colors don't appear in rainbow order, so things aren't quite the way you'd expect them to be. The design's fault was that it was too busy. "They liked the magnifying glass and the cross hairs, but not all at once," Kedar says.

Google No. 5
Typeface: Catull 

This is a further iteration of the previous design, but Kedar gets rid of the cross hairs and the ability to see through the magnifying glass. She adds a smiling mouth, though, to represent "happy" results and a positive search experience. "At the beginning and end, the letters are the same color, but in between, all kinds of things happen," Kedar says, possibly referencing the different routes your search can take as a result of the gaggle of information Google returns.

Google No. 6
Typeface: ITC Leawood

This design was close to Brin's original concept, but by using the Leawood font, shadowing and shading, Kedar gets some dimensionality into the logo as the letters go through thick and thin stages. The logo floats on the search page, which they knew was going to be clean and mostly white. This iteration also started a discussion regarding how many colors Google wanted and what kind of color progression would work.

Google No. 7
Typeface: Catull

"This is where we started simplifying," Kedar explains. "The idea was, 'Can we create the sense of playfulness without having recognizable or identifiable objects that are going to end up limiting us?'" By taking out the magnifying glass, Kedar opens up the logo to signify that Google can become much more than just a search engine. By playing with the angles and colors of the letters, she tries to make clear that Google isn't a square corporation.

Final Design
Typeface: Catull

"There were a lot of different color iterations," Kedar says. "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."

Google also encourages its users to create their own versions of the Google logo. Apart from these, Google comes up with holiday logos and other logos for special occasions, you can check them out at

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