If you happen to be on the internet, then you might have gotten the news last Tuesday night. Even if you aren’t; you might have come across this at least by now. Google loves change. In fact; Google is one of the companies that changes things more than the weather (well almost). They even changed their company structure last month.
Many have seen this as just another rebranding of the web giant. However, it is in fact something more.
It isn’t Your Grandma’s Desktop Anymore
Google isn’t the big house anymore. It’s Alphabet. If you thought that’s the reason for the change, no it isn’t. Google is everywhere, literally. The smallest place they could pack in the interface (to date) seems to be the wristwatch. Which is basically few inches of screen real estate. Mobile has overgrown. Things have to be much simpler, dynamic and scalable. Now that’s the reason.
Not just a Logo, but a System
What exactly did they change? Good question. The surface change: A serif font to a sans-serif font for its full logo and a four-color “G” instead of the blue ‘g’ icon. They have created many circles as possible out of the lettering,
of course except the “l” which is the only straight line and kind of feels awkward too. Let’s look at this later in the article.
I read their design blog; Google Design, not once but multiple times. It comprises a rich case study covering all the key areas of this evolve. It was quite an interesting read. What hit me was the first principle out of Jakob Nielsen’s 10 usability heuristics for user interface design; Visibility of system status. It seems that they are in the process of making systems which are more usable. This is just the beginning.
Google Dots in Motion
The other addition and which I believe the most important one. Also the one which drove me to make the above statement. This is where the ordinary static logo becomes a dynamic logo. It would not be incorrect to name them as the living four morphing dots.
“They represent Google’s intelligence at work and indicate when Google is working for you. Listening, thinking, replying, incomprehension, and confirmation.” – Google Design
What happens here is that during voice search, the logotype changes into four dots. The dots will react to your voice just like in an equalizer. They will then start spinning once you stop talking. This is when Google perform actions and searches. Once the results are shown up, the dots will transform back into the logotype.
They did just Invent a New Typeface.
Design level: Google
Drops the Serif. Serif is that tiny little thing at the end of line stroke in a letter. Example: your favorite “Times New Roman”. Google has a logotype as its logo. Again, this is a logo made out letters. They used a serif typeface throughout the years. But now a Sans Serif font, one that doesn’t have that thingy. That’s new and they call it Product Sans. As the name implies, Google will be using this same typeface in all their products.
Something we understood after going through comments, responses and posts on major social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ along with some research on several other popular tech sites and blogs, even Google’s blog itself is that; most people DO NOT like the new logo. At least they don’t care.
Basically, the number of hate comments were higher than the positive ones at a glance. But when it comes to the opinions from branding gurus and top designers, it was the complete opposite. Why? A simple Customer Experience theory: fear of change. Humans certainly exhibit a rational fear of the unknown. And when something that is too attached to them changes, that is worse. That is a way that this could be explained psychologically. But is it really this?
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill
This is a point where Design and User Experience contradict. In design, one goal is to create something totally new and unique. In UX, the goal will be to offer the users with the same things that they are used to, thus retaining the consistency. For instance; there are specified user workflows that have rather become a norm with time. If you make a difference or do experimentations on these; you are at a high risk of being blamed for creating bad User Experience. In a way, this is acceptable but one can think of it as a chop off of creativity.
In my point of view, the best way to explain this situation would be using the theory of “Diffusion of Innovations”. The easiest way to simplify this is by thinking of fashion trends. At first nobody likes it. Some tend to follow it. Little by little the society of the trend increase. Then the trend rather gets generalized. This isn’t the theory exactly but will be leaving it for you to Google about. The point is, people will change. Their attitude will change. They will adopt and eventually accept. What a beautiful mind it is.
It isn’t about yet another corporate getting a revamp to their branding; specifically the logo. It is about a change for better. Why do we say this? For the simple reason that this change is a compulsory. If they don’t do it today, they will have to do it sooner or later. You probably know the reason why by now. In my point of view, this is a significant leap for Google.
But there is one question that haunts me which I couldn’t find an answer at the time I wrote this article. Google gave birth to a whole new design language last year (2014), Material Design; which I see as the offspring of Flat and Skeuomorphic design. Material incorporate depth effects such as lighting and shadows to mimic a feeling of reality and physical touch. Say what? They just went flat in their new logo. In a way, is it an approach to keep it simple?
Google announced that all their apps and services will get this change eventually. If you are in thirst to know more about the design process and the concepts, just hop onto Google Design for the case study.