A new Google logo, but what’s in a redesign?

Google logoSo Google redesigned its logo last week. Did you notice? Of course you did, it was all over the press. And that was the point. The one pixel down and one pixel to the left was irrelevant to all but the most hardened palo alto fanboys and propeller headed geeks. But it did get huge column inches for the search (and everything else) giant. Funnily enough, the news that Google is obsessive down to the last pixel came out a week before the news that it was to invest $1billion in satellite technology to ensure we’re all connected.

Coincidence? Not if you are a cynical marketer who watches (glares moodily) from the sidelines questioning every column inch for ulterior motives. Google want us to take it seriously, we get that, but not too seriously. Its sleight of hand, look over here at our logo whilst we ensure the currently unconnected 40th parallel – New Zealand to you and me – get uninterrupted internet coverage courtesy of your favourite big brother, Google.

Remember the Gap logo redesign? Gapgate. Was that really a serious project? Judging by the monstrosity that was allegedly proposed as their new logo you’d have to say no. But it did get the brand enormous coverage, not to mention unbridled fury from graphic designers around the world. It then stepped back, ensuring the khaki wearing design conscious middle classes continued to get their mufti outfits from the masters of ‘meh’.

If you want a serious redesign to your logo, take it seriously. Starbucks, a good example. A series of updates since the original Siren featured on the Seattle based coffee roasters. Globally how many people understand the meaningfulness of the twin tailed mermaid and its relationship with the seafaring history of Seattle? Not many, but its a friendly logo that has character. And they’ve managed to retain the core attributes of the logo through the recent redesign which was a simple clean up and repurpose. The clean-up gave a slightly sharper image and saved a fortune to boot my moving to one colour print. I see what you did there, Mr Schultz. Repurpose by dropping the word coffee, (and incidentally the word Starbucks as the company is now so ubiquitous it doesn’t need a name. Prince changing to a symbol anyone?). Dropping ‘coffee’ allows Starbucks to ‘legitimately’ sell other stuff to us. Like music, or tea, or other people’s content, or anything it damn well pleases to its largely engaged and captive audience. So a purposeful repurposing, you might say.

The lesson to be learned from Starbucks is your logo doesn’t need to say what your offer is, your content does. The lesson to be learned from Gap is you can propose logo changes to get publicity but it works better if that logo isn’t designed by a 55-year-old with basic mastery of Corel Draw. The lesson to be learned from Google is keep your eyes on it, all the time.

Matt Bennett is founder and creative partner of Wolfpack