In September 2015 Google announced their new visual identity to the world. And people just can’t stop talking about it. Do you think it’s good? Some really like it. Others are sad that the typeface changed: “They stole my serifs!” So many different opinions…
But instead of telling you whether I like the new identity or not, I thought I’d share 7 things I learned from Google’s new identity when it comes to (re)branding.
1. BRAND VALUES
Google’s mission has always been to take the world’s information and make it accessible and useful to their users —wherever they need it. For Google it all started with the simplicity of their homepage —both look and feel and ease of use, but over time they evolved from just a search engine for desktop to a wide variety of apps that users interact with in all kinds of ways. And they aim to express the same simplicity and delight with their brand.
What are your brand values? What is your mission? And can you think of a way to incorporate these into your brand? Your use of typefaces, colours, icons and images (in short your brand-assets) all display your brand values to the world.
Well, do you think that your brand-assets are an accurate representation of your brand at this time?
2. STAND OUT
When Google first launched their search engine, their approach was totally new. The now famous quirky, multicoloured logo above a single input field with a clean white background didn’t exist. Search engines were so cluttered with other information that you were easily overwhelmed by it all. Then Google came along and changed everything. Their simplicity made them stand out from the crowd. It made them memorable —easy to remember. And because Google’s approach was so different from the status quo nobody could stop talking about it. They were very remarkable. And this is still true to this day.
Does your visual identity make you stand out from the crowd?
Three things will help you do that:
- Simplicity: the easier we can process things, the more we like it.
- Memorability: your visual identity should make it easy for clients to remember you and what you stand for.
- Remarkability: make your visual identity 'worthy of remark’ by doing it differently than the rest and you’ll reach those prospects.
Is your visual identity simple, memorable and remarkable?
3. BRAND CONSISTENCY
For Google’s new visual identity they went back to the basic building blocks: “We started by distilling the essence of our brand down to its core—four colors on a clean white background—and built it back up.” —Alex Cook, Jonathan Jarvis & Jonathan Lee in Evolving the Google Identity. The whole identity has been rebuilt and the different elements all ooze Google: e.g. the logo, the dots and the monogram. The use of typefaces, colour and icons is very consistent throughout their whole identity.
A sans serif logotype that retains their distinct multi-color sequence.
A dynamic distillation of the logotype for interactive, assistive, and transitional moments.
A compact version of the Google logo that works in small contexts.
—I just love those dots! I can’t stop looking at them.
How consistent is your visual identity? Do you have a typeface (or several, max. 2-3) that you use everywhere —e.g. for your website, your flyers, your business cards and ebooks? What about the colours (max. 3-5 colours) that represent your brand? Or your use of icons and images.
Collect all your brand-assets in one place and check: Do they all match your brand? And do they all use your typefaces, colours, icons and images consistently?
4. LOOK GOOD EVERYWHERE
One of the main reasons why Google had their rebrand, was that they wanted to look good on every device. "The new, simpler lettering is supposed to scale better to smaller sizes, making the wordmark more distinct and easier to read. It's also supposed to be easier for Google to display on low-bandwidth connections.” —says Jacob Kastrenakes in Google has a new logo. Legibility (the ease with which a reader can recognize individual characters in text) is very important for a visual identity. It should look great on the biggest billboard, but also on the smallest screen.
How good does your logo look when it’s really small? Is it still recognisable and legible? And what about when the logo is in black & white? Does it still feel like your brand?
Take a look at your logo at different sizes —from very small to very big, in colour and in black & white. How does it perform?
5. RISKS OF REBRANDING
With every rebrand we risk alienating our core audience. "Consciously or not, we internalize the brands that we admire (and want to align ourselves with) as well as the brands that are a part of our daily lives. As the consumer-facing symbol of a brand's packaged identity, when a logo changes we expect the underlying brand to change as well.” —says Karen Winterich in Why We Hate Logo Redesigns.
Be aware of this risk when you start thinking about a major rebrand.
Are you ready to take the risk? Make sure you make this decision with this in mind.
"Brands tend to overlook the impact a [rebrand] can have.”
— Michael Walsh, West Virginia University
6. WHY REBRAND AT ALL?
If it's that risky, why should I consider a rebrand? Usually a rebrand goes hand in hand with big changes within a company. Google felt the need to revolutionise their visual identity to bring it up to speed with present day demands. They evaluated the risks and took the plunge, which resulted in a wide range of opinions from their users. Some love it, some feel betrayed.
For your company a rebrand can be a great way of letting the world know that things are changing. Are things changing in your company? Or did you already change course recently? Then your current visual identity might not represent your brand anymore. This would be a good time to start thinking about a rebrand.
7. HAVE A CLEAR REASON FOR A REBRAND
Google had a clear reason for the recent rebrand. "Today we’re introducing a new logo and identity family that reflects this reality and shows you when the Google magic is working for you, even on the tiniest screens. As you’ll see, we’ve taken the Google logo and branding, which were originally built for a single desktop browser page, and updated them for a world of seamless computing across an endless number of devices and different kinds of inputs (such as tap, type and talk).” —Alex Cook, Jonathan Jarvis & Jonathan Lee in Evolving the Google Identity.
Make sure you communicate your reasons for the rebrand clearly to your audience. Why are you doing a rebrand? And how are your going to communicate that to your audience? When Google told the world about their new visual identity, they released a video and a blog post with details on what has changed and why.
If you’re considering a rebrand, we have just the thing you need:
We offer a Private Branding Workshop to help you take the first steps. Together we’ll look into who you are, what your values are, what makes you different (in relation to your client) and how you are linked to your client.
Atelier Pan | Brand Design for Conscious Entrepreneurs
*Images from: Evolving the Google Identity, except the final one.