Article

Evolving the Google Identity

By Alex Cook, Jonathan Jarvis & Jonathan Lee

Google is not a conventional company. Our mission—to take the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful—continues to evolve. Last year we introduced Material Design to help designers and developers embrace an expanding, multi-device, multi-screen world. With those considerations in mind, we are excited to share a new brand identity that aims to make Google more accessible and useful to our users—wherever they may encounter it.

Since its inception, the Google.com homepage has been strikingly simple: The quirky, multicolored logo sits above a single, approachable input field on a clean white canvas. But as technology moves forward, the canvas itself is changing, and the inputs and needs are becoming more diverse. New classes of devices and ways to interact and communicate have emerged with wearables, voice technology, and smart devices in the world around us. Users now engage with Google using a constellation of devices, and our brand should express the same simplicity and delight they expect from our homepage, while fully embracing the opportunities offered by each new device and surface.

Here’s a glimpse at some of the design considerations that went into taking the best of what people know and love about Google, and evolving the brand to continue to be as dynamic and unconventional as we strive to be.

Designed together

Early this year, designers from all across the company, including Creative Lab and the Material Design team, convened in New York for an intense, week-long design sprint. We drafted a brief that identified four challenges we wanted to address:

  1. A scalable mark that could convey the feeling of the full logotype in constrained spaces.

  2. The incorporation of dynamic, intelligent motion that responded to users at all stages of an interaction.

  3. A systematic approach to branding in our products to provide consistency in people’s daily encounters with Google.

  4. 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.

We started by distilling the essence of our brand down to its core—four colors on a clean white background—and built it back up. Stickies were stuck, pins were pushed, and beziers were animated. With the cutting room floor littered with hundreds of hours of design work, we set out with a few directions that excited us.

We shared the thinking with teams across the organization. Engineering, research, product, and marketing tested the ideas and evaluated their feasibility as we iterated on the design and rollout strategy. This collaborative process led to a system flexible enough to be used across our marketing materials and product work on any platform: three elemental states that make up a single logo.

The Elements

Google Logotype

A sans serif logotype that retains our distinct multi-color sequence.

Dots

A dynamic distillation of the logotype for interactive, assistive, and transitional moments.

Google G

A compact version of the Google logo that works in small contexts.

Understanding the system

The thinking and design development goes much deeper than the core elements, and a spec was developed to help with consistency across teams working on a wide range of applications. The following examples are not comprehensive, but show a bit of the thinking that went into the system.

Logotype

The Google logo has always had a simple, friendly, and approachable style. We wanted to retain these qualities by combining the mathematical purity of geometric forms with the childlike simplicity of schoolbook letter printing. Our new logotype is set in a custom, geometric sans-serif typeface and maintains the multi-colored playfulness and rotated ‘e’ of our previous mark—a reminder that we’ll always be a bit unconventional.

The final logotype was tested exhaustively at various sizes and weights for maximum legibility in all the new digital contexts. To guide usage in screen and print, we developed standards to cover all aspects of the logotype including spacing, clearance rules, product lockups, and redline specifications for in-product treatments.

Google G Construction

The Google G is directly derived from the logotype ‘G,’ but uses increased visual weight to stand up at small sizes and contexts where it needs to share space with other elements. Designed on the same grid as our product iconography, the circular shape was optically refined to prevent a visual “overbite” at the point where the circular form meets the crossbar. The color proportions convey the full spectrum of the logotype and are sequenced to aid eye movement around the letterform.

Google Dots in Motion

The Google dots are a dynamic and perpetually moving state of the logo. They represent Google’s intelligence at work and indicate when Google is working for you. We consider these unique, magic moments. A full range of expressions were developed including listening, thinking, replying, incomprehension, and confirmation. While their movements might seem spontaneous, their motion is rooted in consistent paths and timing, with the dots moving along geometric arcs and following a standard set of snappy easing curves.

Color

The Google logotype benefits from whitespace between letterforms, but when colors are adjacent—as in the case of the Google G—they optically blend and can result in a darkening and dimming of the original value. We adjusted and pushed the vibrancy of the red, green, and yellow to maintain saturation and pop.

Implementation

Typography

In tandem with developing the logotype, we created a custom, geometric sans-serif typeface to complement the logo in product lockups and supporting identity materials. We call it Product Sans. The typeface design takes cues from that same schoolbook letter-printing style, but adopts the neutral consistency we’ve all come to expect from a geometric sans serif. This allows us to maintain an appropriate level of distinction between the Google logotype and the product name. The character set is complete with numerals, punctuation, accent and alternate characters, fractions, symbols, and supports extended Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic. Download the type specimen for more detail.

Product

Many of our products across Google will be releasing the update, but for most people, the very first experience of the new brand will be through Search. The Search UX and engineering teams worked hard to deliver the first embodiment of the text and voice queries, demonstrating the identity’s full range of expression.

Broader distribution

As the design evolved, engineering developed a unique approach for asset generation, version control, and self-service distribution across our code base. Using pixel-perfect SVGs for base assets, we automatically generated thousands of vector-based variants to satisfy size, color, and background requirements. These variants are then checked into our source control in a canonical location to avoid duplication and ensure that every team is using the most correct, up-to-date assets.

This helps us make the design pixel perfect everywhere it's used, and it allows us to optimize these assets for size and latency, including building a special variant of our full-color logo that is only 305 bytes, compared to our existing logo at ~14,000 bytes. The old logo, with its intricate serifs and larger file size, required that we serve a text-based approximation of the logo for low bandwidth connections. The new logo’s reduced file size avoids this workaround and the consistency has tremendous impact when you consider our goal of making Google more accessible and useful to users around the world, including the next billion.

Beyond design

Design was only one part of the effort. The realization of the new identity required the collective work and diligence of hundreds of Googlers, in different roles, spanning the entire organization. They deserve huge credit for building and implementing the system down to the very last pixel.

As we move forward creating new products and experiences, we hope this work will continue to deliver the simplicity and delight you expect from Google—wherever new technology may take us.

Contributors
Alex Cook
Jonathan Jarvis
Jonathan Lee