Co.Design

Google's New, Flatter Logo Has Been 14 Years In The Making

Google is planning to roll out a new, flatter logo. It's not just a more appropriate symbol for a modern Google but the culmination of more than a decade of design evolution.

Last week, Yahoo topped off a monthlong campaign, teasing users with tantalizing glimpses at alternate-dimension logos, and finally showed off the final design. Yahoo isn't the only big tech company in Silicon Valley rolling out a new logo: Google is preparing its own logo redesign too. Unlike Yahoo, Google is choosing to run silent and deep with their new logo design, at least so far. But in many ways, the mark has been in the works almost as long as Google has been around.

Although the company has yet to officially announce any details, a new Google logo has been spotted in the SDK for the Chrome for Android Beta, where it was temporarily visible on the new tab page before Google quickly pulled the asset, but not before Ars Technica took notice. You can also see the new design live on Google's servers here.

While it's not a dramatic change, it's certainly a more appropriate logo for a modern Google. The search giant has been actively distancing itself from skeuomorphism since 2011, when Google's Chrome team took their bulbous, '90s-looking Chrome logo and ran over it with a steamroller, moving the icon toward a simpler and more abstract look. At the time, Google's Chrome team justified the move by saying the primary benefit of a flatter design was that it allowed them to maintain consistency across print, the web, and other possible media formats. Ever since then, Google has been at the vanguard of Silicon Valley's push toward flatter design trends in all of their products, with the ironic exception of their official logo.

Given where Google's design ethos has been heading the last few years (see, for example, how Google unified its products with a simple index card, it makes sense that the search giant would want to make its logo less discordant with their other products. But you could make the argument that Google has been "going flat" for years now. By putting the proverbial iron to their logo and totally eliminating its faux 3-D shading, Google is completing a gradual flattening process that it started way back in 1999, when it let some air out of its current balloon-animal logotype, slimming down the font and calming down the aggressive shadowing. In May 2010, Google changed its logo again, subtly dialing back the more three-dimensional aspects of the logo's design. With the most recent version, any semblances of three-dimensionality or an outside light source have been eliminated entirely. The Google mark is now as flat as it can get.

When Google will pull the trigger and roll this design out across all of its products is unknown, but it's coming. This may deceptively look like a small change, but it's actually the culmination of 14 years of evolution for the Google logo: never a matter of if, but always of when.

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15 Comments

  • 3stephen3

    Really??? This is what passes now days for design innovation? Hey Google, how about fixing Google Fonts so they don't display cut in half in your own browser. Now that would be innovation.

  • Christopher Burd

    It's still a mediocre wordmark: an aldine typeface with daycare/circus colours - almost 90s Microsoftesque in its awkwardness. Not that it matters.

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  • Nathan Adams

    Can we *please* stop calling the absence of flourishes such as faux bevels "flat". Whatever the case may be in UI design, it is not a "trend" in graphic design, and describing branding in such terms is just idiotic. 

  • Kevin Guenther CGD

    Yes!

    "A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."
    - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    This isn't a "trend."

  • Kev Adamson

    You could say they are jumping on the "Flat" bandwagon, but it is the right change.
    I think it makes total sense.

    In terms of branding: when you keep things simple you communicate confidence, and also allow your brand assets more flexibility in terms of scale and use.

    And from a mobile web perspective: simple, flatter assets will load quicker and deliver a message clearly.

    Flat design _is_ a fad, but it's a completely appropriate and understandable approach, and one which I think is helping design on the web move away from its old crutches, with more focus on clearer messages, composition, typography and space.

    A subtle change by Google perhaps, but a clear message.

  • Ian Isted

    Hi guys. I'm sorry but they have not redesigned their logo. This is the logo they use for print. Someone accidentally used this in the Android Chrome app, it has been removed and Google have confirmed they are not changing their logo.

  • randywilloughby1

    While they're flattening it, Google should reconsider the font. Catull (the font that Google's logo is based on) has its roots in calligraphy and looks so out of place for a company that is supposed to be leading us through the 21st century.

  • @brentwgraham

    I thought they already cleared the air that the 'beta' version was just the print-ready version and there was no official logo change...