Graphic design pros critique Google’s new logo

Do you remember when Google had an exclamation mark in its logo?

Yes, there was a Yahoo-esque punctuation character in the world’s most-used search engine back in 1999. After that, it switched to the serif font that was used without much in the way of variation until Sept. 1, when its new logo was unveiled. If you didn’t remember, it just goes to show that what can seem like a big change at the time can quickly become a minor footnote in a brand’s history.

Google explained why it’s redesigning its new logo in a blog post, saying that times have changed and so have the ways that people use Google. Rather than searching primarily from desktop computers, we’re using smartphones to search more often. Then there’s other places the search engine is popping up – your smart TV, your connected car dashboard, your smart watch, etc.

So we know why Google wanted to make the change, but what do graphic design professionals think about the change? We asked some for their thoughts:

Jeff Coles, senior graphic designer, IT World Canada

ITWC’s own lead graphic designer says he wasn’t a fan of the old, serif treatment on the retired logo. But he does like the new flatter look of the new logo. “The bolder, chunkier style works way better with the colours and it’s still a playful piece.”

Amanda de Sousza, advertising professor at Durham College

Google had to move on from the dated look of a serif logo, de Sousza says. Web competitors like Facebook have recently made slight updates to their logo; the new design seems to come at the right time and isn’t too drastic in the change. It’s an Apple-esque design that aims to be as simple and flat as possible. “Give it a few years and we’ll all go back to the ‘classic’ logos for a good dose of nostalgia before it changes again to something completely different.”

Anis Litim, freelance graphic designer formerly with Blueband Digital

The new logo is too bland and is the latest victim of a trend towards flat design, Litim says. The problem with flat design is that it doesn’t leave too much room for creativity, which has the effect of making all the brands using it look similar. Take a look at Lenovo’s new logo introduced at the end of May – the e looks exactly the same as the new Google logo.

Google also made a mistake in removing the closed bottom on the second “g” in its name, Litim says. “It’s like they got rid of anything that defined their identity and just jumped on the bandwagon … it’s just unimaginative to follow the same trend that so many other companies have followed to look modern while sacrificing brand identity.”

Victoria Dobbs, freelance designer and social media manager of TEDx San Francisco

Dobbs didn’t care for Google’s old logo when she was first introduced to it, she recalls, but it grew on her as the service proved its worth. It at least looked unique, as opposed to the new logo that looks like every other trendy wordmark. On the other hand, the old serif font looked archaic and dated, which Google is definitely not. As well, the new multi-coloured “G” that will be used as logo shorthand is more appropriate for newer web features like favicons.

Jason Smith, president of Atlantis Digital

Google has struck the right balance of old meets new with its new logo and the multi-coloured G.

“What I like is the new G by itself,” Smith says. “It works much better as a standalone icon for all their applications. The old lower case serif g never seemed to render well when sized down and it never looked great next to other social icons for sharing or otherwise.”

Brian Jackson, editor of

I’d never dare claim to have graphic design chops, and like most people I don’t spend much time considering the finer points of logo style. I admit that when Google updated its logo, I had to search (yes, I had to Google it) the old logo to remind myself of what it looked like exactly. To the layman, this is the same logo with a different font. I don’t understand why some fonts are considered more modern or how they become archaic, except that it might have something to do with decisions Apple makes about its operating systems. Whatever the design motivations, this clearly lines up with the creation of Alphabet, the new parent company for Google, and the resulting need to recast Google’s image in the public’s mind.

What do you think of Google’s new logo? Let us know in the comments below.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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