Google’s logo is one of the most recognizable global brands in history. Although it looked a bit rough in the beginning, Google’s clever refinements over the past two decades reveal an interesting transition that ultimately results in the crisp, clear icon we know and love today.
If you are feeling nostalgic or simply curious about Google’s evolution, here’s a look back at the company’s logo evolution over the past 20 years.
Also, I want to share some information about the colors of Google’s logo.
A Brief History of Google
Larry Page started Google as a research project at Stanford, initially called Backrub. During his graduate program in computer science, Page met Sergey Brin. During this time, Page was investigating the behavior of internet backlinks and the possibility of having an internet crawler that could detect which pages were being linked from other pages. In his view, this was a revolutionary way of developing a search engine of some sort.
With Brin’s math expertise, the two friends partnered up to create the famed PageRank algorithm, which was named after Larry. The algorithm would rank the importance of web pages based on a few link factors. With this technology, the most powerful search engine of the time was born and would launch within Stanford’s private local network in August of 1996.
The Google Logo Evolution
1996: The Very First Google’s Logo
The company’s first logo was actually for “Backrub,” which is what the founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin named their search engine. The name was inspired by the fact that the search engine’s primary function was to crawl through links on the internet.
In 1997, they switched to the name “Google” which is a misspelling of the Latin term “googol” meaning 10100 (10 to the 100th power). The whole idea behind the name was that googol could serve up 100s of results based on the searches made by its users.
1998: First Google’s Logo
Some sources credit Page with the first logo design, but others say Brin created it with GIMP, a popular free image editor. The first logo shows the mixed letter color concept as envisioned initially, and would serve as a prototype for later versions. The order of the colors is different from the version that followed, but the basic idea was there.
Later, Google added the exclamation mark, supposedly following the internet trends of the time, led by Yahoo! At that time, Yahoo! was the largest website on the internet. Founders of Google might have wished to emulate them.
1999-2010: Ruth Kedar’s Logo Versions
Ruth Kedar, an assistant professor at Stanford, met Page and Brin through a mutual friend in 1999. As the young Google founders were not happy with their logo, they asked Kedar to produce improved prototypes.
Kedar designed the first one using Adobe Garamond, with all letters black and an emblem made of two colored “O” letters. Additionally, she deleted the exclamation mark.
The next variant used the Catull typeface, a font that should be familiar to most users. The letters were black except for the second “O,” which was interwoven with red and white geometric shapes and a line through it. The shape was meant to convey a sense of accuracy.
Other versions of Kedar’s design were more experimental; she added a magnifying glass in two versions and interlocked the middle o’s in another. There was, however, a need to move toward simplicity, and the most intricate look yet came in the eighth version.
Kenar had to prove that Google could do much more than just be a search engine, which meant saying goodbye to the magnifying glass. So she changed the convention order of primary colors as a way to clearly show Google’s unconventionality.
Google’s Logo Simplicity
The final variant was the most minimalistic and was the official logo of Google for the next 11 years, ending in 2010 (or 2015 if you do not take into account those small changes in 2010).
However, 2010’s design changes were only minor. First, Google dropped the drop shadow effect on the wordmark, and then it changed the second “o” from yellow to orange.
2015: New Google’s Logo
In 2015, Google decided it was time for a rebrand. Google designers from different cities worked during a week-long competition in New York on a company logo and brand image.
The Google logo was significantly changed as a result of this design sprint. In contrast to its predecessor’s multicolor lettering, the sleek new Google font, Product Sans, was a refreshing departure from Catull’s old serif font.
The new typeface, Product Sans, was intended to be used across all of Google’s products. Also, Google’s designers made variations of the logo for use across various platforms, such as the rainbow “G” used on the company’s mobile apps.
The 2015 logo, even though it still looked simple, was an upgrade for designers. With the switch from serif to sans-serif, designers can manipulate the design to fit the needs of different platforms, particularly mobile. There is a general belief that serif fonts do not scale well due to the little serifs/glyphs on the letter edges. In very small sizes, their legibility suffers more than their sans-serif counterparts.
In addition, the new logo was designed to look younger, funnier, and less intimidating. In other words, users should see Google as a cool tech company, rather than a massive tech corporation to be afraid of.
Google introduced a new favicon alongside the new logo in 2015. Google uses the multicolored capital “G” symbol as an alternate to its logo on many of its products, including Gmail and Android apps.
What Font Is the Google’s Logo?
Google’s current logo is composed of a sans-serif font, Product Sans, custom-made by the company’s in-house design team. The font is pixel-friendly, thanks to its bold and streamlined contours, making it suitable for all screen solutions.
The Official Google Colors
The official Google colors are blue, red, yellow and green. Below are the color codes for these 4 colors. The Google brand book has verified these. Since 1998, Google has used these four colors but has changed the color palette slightly to use flat (two-dimensional) colors to make the brand more modern.
PANTONE: PMS 660 C
Hex Color: #4285F4
PANTONE: PMS 7619 C
Hex Color: #DB4437
PANTONE: PMS 123 C
Hex Color: #F4B400
PANTONE: PMS 7724 C
Hex Color: #0F9D58
Represents: Professionalism, Trust, Authority, Power and Loyalty
As a symbol of loyalty and professionalism, blue is popular in corporate logos. Various businesses use this color, including those in the software, finance, pharmaceutical, and government sectors. You can design a logo just with the color blue, but you can also use two colors in your design, such as red and blue.
Represents: Passion, Love, Anger, Hunger, Health, Excitement and Life
Generally, red is a powerful, energetic and attractive color used in logos of food, health, beauty, and entertainment brands. Logos in red are memorable, without a doubt.
Logos in red catch the attention of customers, and you should use this color if you are trying to lure them towards your brand. You can use red in your logo in a number of ways to make it look unique, interesting and prominent. Create a logo design in red to increase brand recognition.
Represents: Happiness, Warmth, Innovation and Caution
Color yellow invokes feelings of happiness, warmth, and relaxation. Generally, it doesn’t play a central role in logos and is used sparingly to emphasize certain features. Bright shades alone can make the color seem overwhelming, which is why it is a difficult color to use.
Represents: Harmony, Natural, Healthy, Renewal and Plentiful
In most cases, green refers to eco-friendly businesses or companies that fall within agriculture, recycling, landscaping, gardening, and solar power. It is the color of nature and gives a calming effect while representing growth. Naturally, we would expect green to be limited to a few industries. But various top brands use shades of green in their logos.
How Colors in the Google’s Logo were Chosen
It is essential to choose the right logo colors when designing something as important to the branding of a company as a logo. That’s why it’s no surprise that Google, a company that pays great attention to their logo, didn’t choose the colors by accident. When asked how Google came to select the colors they did, Ruth Kedar, the graphic designer who developed the logo the company now uses, said, “There were a lot of different color iterations. We ended up with the primary colors, but instead of having the pattern go in order, we put a secondary color on the L, which brought back the idea that Google doesn’t follow the rules.”
The Choose of Google’s Logo Colors
Google designers decided to start with colors from a pattern that was accepted and recognized, so that the company is just as recognizable as the first color chart taught around the world. Even so, it wouldn’t do for the most cutting-edge company in the world to keep things entirely conventional. Google’s momentum continues to grow because of being innovative and pushing boundaries of what is accepted as being essential to the mission and vision of the company. In order to convey these messages, Google decided to change the pattern they started with and make the L a secondary color instead. This is a simple design with an important message, one that accurately reflects the vision of the company in just a few recognizable colors arranged in a meaningful order.
Why Google’s Logo Is So Colorful
1. Google breaks a regular colour pattern, showing that it doesn’t follow the rules
Ruth Kedar says there were a lot of different color variations. They ended up with the primary colors, but instead of ordering it in order, they added a secondary color on the L, proving that Google doesn’t follow the rules.
2. Different colors were used for each prime position and for the composite position
The theory is that letters are assigned different colors based on whether the position is a prime number or not. Each of the letters 1, 2, 3 and 5 has a distinctive color: blue, red, yellow and green. Letters 4 and 6 (composite numbers) repeat colors in the same order in which they were assigned the first time: blue and red.
3. They began with the primary color pattern and ended with RGB color scale
The first three primary colors in the arts are blue, red, and yellow, which is also reflected in Google’s primary colors. However, when developing software, the color scale is RGB, so the next three colors are red, green, and blue.
4. They combined paint and light to create a harmonious line, and they applied some aesthetic reasoning
Red, yellow and blue are the primary colours when considering paint.
Red, green and blue are the primary colours when considering light.
So it would be logical to combine these two to get
G = blue
o = red
o = yellow
g = blue
l = green
e = red
There’s a possibility that the order was made for aesthetic reasons or to avoid starting with red.
5. The colors of the logo evoke the first Google server constructed from Lego bricks
Google’s first server rack was made with Lego bricks because the team thought it would be a more cost-effective (and expandable) way to store ten 4GB hard drives. This included the colors red, yellow, blue and green, like the logo.
Google is one of the world’s most powerful businesses, and its influence doesn’t seem to be waning anytime soon. Despite a few poor decisions, such as the acquisition of Motorola Mobile in 2013, Google has been a massive success as a search engine and tech solutions provider, making up for all its mistakes.
Google’s colorful logo is one of the most instantly recognizable symbols in the world thanks to its simple but bright letters. Since Google rebranded in 2015, its brand image feels more polished and user-friendly than ever before.
If you are interested of the role of colors in branding, you can also read this article.