Google, Spotify, Facebook...you visit them daily, even have them saved to your favorites menu, but these technology companies have more in common than just being our go-to sources for all things entertainment and news. These three powerhouses changed their logos this year, joining KFC, Coors Light, Verizon, and many more in an effort to revamp, modernize, and “clean up” their look. Reactions to these “upgrades” varied from meh to downright horror.
Google surprised us all when it traded in its serif typeface for a sans-serif one and sent bloggers, writers and Google users in uproar. “It has symbolically diluted our trust,” said Sarah Larson from the New Yorker. She uses words like insipid, ho-hum, and demented to describe the new style. This was not the first time Google changed its look; in fact, it’s evolved quite a bit over the past 17 years. However, 2015’s rehaul has been the most significant since 1999, when the mega-company picked the four rainbow-like colors we now know to be synonymous with our most beloved search engine.1
So why so upset over the cleaner look? The most opinionated believe it’s a reflection of a shift in a company that has proven reliable and loyal to us for the past decade and a half. “We loved the old logo, and we loved what Google was. Whatever it’s up to, whatever its intentions, Google should want to keep our love. So in the name of love, Google, give us back our serifs,” Larson pleads.
Dramatic response? Maybe. But the hard fact is that Google’s abandonment of the grown-up looking font face isn’t going to deter us from using its search engine. Because a brand is more than just a logo, especially for one of the strongest brands in the world. If anything, the cacophony of response is yet another indication of how strongly attached we are to Google and its visual identity. Google makes the world more accessible and it does this for us with or without the font feet.
However, for other brands—those that aren’t in the top 10—a logo shift can have a direct impact on sales. Lesson learned from Tropicana, who received enormous backlash in 2009 when they underwent a branding and packaging overhaul. The negative reaction was instant and fierce, resulting in a 20% drop in sales, triggering the company to revert back to its former look within weeks.2
Often, brands will change their look for the wrong reasons. It’s been five years is not a valid rationale. A shift in branding should come about with a shift in a company’s strategy, vision or mission. In Google’s case, the new identity shows up better on more mobile devices. In the official logo announcement, Google supports its decision that a shift to sans serif is one that will enhance the user experience across all kinds of devices. “It’s simple, uncluttered, colorful, and friendly” says Google. I’m not completely convinced that a serif “G” would have been unwieldy for “even the tiniest screens.” But what’s done is done, and I will still remain faithful to my beloved search engine.
Google's new branding will be based on Trust, Beauty, Technological Purity and Innovation.
Our goal is to give you a more seamless and consistent online experience — one that works no matter which Google product you're using or what device you're using it on.
— Larry Page
If you’re not Google—or Apple—your logo matters more than you may think. It’s a graphic representation of who you are, what you do, and what you stand for. It’s a reflection of your brand, which is built over time when enough people have come to collected opinions about your company and your work. It’s, as Marc Benioff argues, your most important asset.
Save yourself from a Tropicana scenario. Is your logo terrible? Does it misrepresent who you are? Have you changed your company’s direction? If no, you probably don’t need to change your brand look. Inversely, however, If you nodded your head, then making sure your biggest company asset is spot-on is priority number one.
See the complete list of large companies who changed their logos in 2015.