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The History Of The Google Logo

If you want to confirm if a restaurant is open, where do you go? If you want to find out more information about a product you just saw an advertisement for, where do you go? Or, if you want to get inspiration for holiday gifts, where do you go? Chances are Google is the first website you visit to search for what you are looking for. 

“Googling” has become something all of us do daily. None of us give it any thought – whenever we want to find something out, we go to www.google.com to learn more. Beyond just being our go-to search engine, Google has evolved to include YouTube, smart home devices, smartphones, and so much more. 

There’s a reason why whatever Google touches turns to gold. It’s because their logo is familiar and relatable, and because their logo evokes trust and high quality. It doesn’t matter what Google’s logo is printed on, if you as a consumer see it, you know what you are about to purchase will be cutting-edge and will be a product that will stand up to the hype. 

As one of the top technology companies in the world, Google’s logo is also one of the top recognizable logos in the world. Keep reading to learn more about Google’s evolution as a company and how its logo helped drive its domination in the tech market. 

The History Of The Google Logo

Meet Google

If you look back at how Google was founded, you will have to look back at Larry Page’s time at Stanford University. As a Stanford student, Larry studied within the computer science graduate program. When he was assigned a research project, Larry began to explore what happens behind the scenes with URLs and what possibilities there were for pages to be linked to and from other pages. He met Sergey Brin during this time, although at that time he didn’t know Sergey would become his Google Co-Founder. As Larry was exploring this research project, he began to develop Backrub, the first name of Google. 

Larry and Sergey teamed up and balanced each other out. Larry brought the tech skills, and Sergey brought the math skills. Together the two developed the PageRank algorithm which ranked web pages based on importance. With this PageRank algorithm, the duo launched Backrub on Stanford’s private network in August 1996. From there, Backrub became Google and Google took off. 

If you fast forward to today, Google dominates the search engine market, owning over 90% of the industry and having 246 million Google users in the United States alone. 

Google’s Evolution

1998: Google is founded

Founded in 1998, Google was incorporated after the co-founder of Sun Microsystems, Andy Bechtolsheim, put forth $100,000 in funding for this billion-dollar idea. This idea was the concept of Google that Larry Page and Sergey Brin came up with. They knew it was an idea that would stick after every day more and more website URLs were showing up on the web. As the World Wide Web continued to expand, they knew Google would as well. 

After Google was initially founded, daily operations were moved to the garage of Susan Wojcicki’s home. Susan remained part of the Google brand as the company expanded, later becoming the CEO of YouTube. 

2002: Yahoo! tries (unsuccessfully) to take over Google

Google’s top competitor was Yahoo! which was established as the premier search engine in the early 2000s. What set Google apart though was that they had better search engine technology built into their platform, which Yahoo! was aware of. Google went on to supply their search engine technology to Yahoo! in 2000. Yahoo! tried to take over Google with a $3 billion offer, but Google did not bite. Larry and Sergey felt Yahoo! gave them a low offer and they believed Google was worth at least $5 billion. 

2004: Google expands its offerings with Gmail

Google employee, Paul Buchheit, decided to take Google’s internal communication upgrade into his own hands. He saw issues with their current internal communications, so he worked on creating a new email platform to combat those issues. Buchheit used Ajax, a web scripting technology, to create a faster email server that could refresh communication content without the page needing to be reloaded. 

Buchheit started working on this project in 2001 and it formally became Gmail on April 1, 2004. When it was first released to the public, Gmail offered 1GB of data storage and in only a couple of years, Gmail became the top email platform, overtaking Yahoo! yet again. 

2006: Google takes over YouTube

Google’s first acquisition was YouTube which they purchased for $1.65 billion. Fellow tech giants, Yahoo! and Microsoft, also bid on YouTube, as it was the top video platform on the internet to date, but Google beat out their offers. 

This partnership allowed for Google to expand beyond just email to video, and for YouTube to expand beyond just video to all of Google’s resources and offerings. 

2007: Google continues to acquire companies, this time taking over DoubleClick

With each of Google’s acquisitions, Google’s list of services and specialties also expanded. In April of 2007, Google took on the advertising industry with its purchase of DoubleClick. Before this acquisition, Google was beginning to plant seeds to name itself as one of the largest players in the advertising industry through its use of AdWords. With this acquisition, Google was able to be even more dominant in the search engine marketing industry. 

2008: Google launches the Android phone

Before the Android, iPhone and the smartphone were interchangeable terms. When Google launched the Android in September 2008, Google entered this market and loyal iPhone users began to adopt the Android. 

Google purchased the Android platform for $50 million and today there are over a billion smartphone users who choose to use an Android phone over an iPhone. 

Roadblocks Along the Way: 

When you are one of the leading technology companies out there, you are not immune to bad publicity and roadblocks. Over the years, Google has certainly encountered its share of roadblocks, but they were able to overcome each challenge that was presented. One of these instances was their poor choice in acquiring Motorola Mobile in 2013. They were able to make up for this misstep and poor decision though only to continue growing. 

Their resilience is a direct result of having a brand built on strong pillars and a solid foundation. As Google continues to grow, its brand loyalty also continues to grow. That means that whatever roadblocks Google encounters, its consumers never abandon the brand. 

The Meaning of Google’s Logo and Google’s Logo History

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1996-1998: The first version of the Google logo

When Google was first founded, it was under the name Backrub. Google’s first logo reflects its first name. This name came from the platform’s service of going through the internet’s backlogs to link websites to their search engine. 

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In 1997 Backrub officially became Google. The name Google is based on the Latin word, googol, which means 10 to the 100th power. Larry and Sergey took this word and misspelled it to officially name their platform, Google. This name was fitting because they wanted to convey that Google could serve 100s of results with just one search. Once the company was officially named, Larry and Sergey played around with the first iteration of Google’s logo. 

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1998-1999: The second version of the Google logo

It’s not clear whether Larry or Sergey created this version of Google’s logo, although many believe it was in fact, Sergey. These individuals believe that he used the free image editor, GIMP, to create this logo. This logo includes many elements that are still present in today’s logo. This includes the various letter colors, although the order of these colors is slightly different than today’s version. 

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You’ll also notice in this second version that Google added an exclamation mark at the end of their wordmark, which is like their leading competitor, Yahoo!

If you think about Google’s logo today, you’ll likely think about how there are random doodles from time to time. With this second logo version, also came the birth of the first Google doodle. This doodle concept came about before Google was launched, back when Larry and Sergey attended a Burning Man festival. Instead of their standard out-of-office message, they added a stick drawing for the second “O” on their “OOO.”

After this initial doodle, random doodles frequently made appearances on the platform. These usually are tied into a certain holiday, or day of significance, like the birthday of a notable person from history, or a national holiday. 

1999-2010: The third version of the Google logo

Unlike the prior versions of the logo, this third version was developed by Ruth Kedar in 1999, an assistant professor at Stanford University. Ruth met the founders through a mutual friend and after they shared that they weren’t happy with the status of their logo, they outsourced help from Ruth. 

As Ruth started creating this logo iteration, she started off by using a new typeface, Adobe Garamond. This version was different than Google’s past logos, featuring predominantly black letters. Color was instead incorporated through an emblem that connected the two “O’s.” It was also in this version that the exclamation mark was dropped from the logo. 

As Ruth continued working on the logo, she explored a new font, Catull. She again opted mainly for black lettering except for the second “O.” Instead of sticking with the multi-colored emblem, Ruth elected to have red and white geometric shapes intertwine this “O.” Ruth wasn’t done yet though.

She continued to explore additional iterations, playing around with colors, and symbols (like a magnifying glass), and exploring how she would make the “O’s” pop. Each iteration during this period was one step closer to what Larry and Sergey were looking for – a simpler logo that conveyed Google’s accuracy. 

For her final version, Ruth dropped the magnifying glass to highlight that Google is more than a search engine, and she changed the colors of the logo once more. 

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2010-2015: The fourth version of the Google logo

This fourth version of the logo lasted for 5 years and was their simplest logo to date. For this version, Google elected to drop the shadow effect on their typography, and they changed the coloring of the second “O” to orange, dropping the yellow. 

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2015 – today: The fifth version of the Google logo

After sticking with the same logo for many years, Google decided to rebrand in 2015. Unlike their former rebranding, this time, Google turned it into a competition. Google held a week-long race in 2015 in New York City where designers from all over the country met to create a new, updated logo. 

The result of this race was the logo we know today. This logo has a new typeface, Product Sans, and still featured the familiar multicolored lettering. This new font slowly rolled out across all of Google’s products. This new font was easier for Google’s designers to recreate on a variety of platforms, on different scales, particularly mobile-friendly ones. As this new logo was developed, the designers also created new variations of the logo that could be used for different products on different platforms. One of these variations was the rainbow “G” you likely know. 

This new logo works because it looks new, young, fresh, and fun, and together it portrays Google as a hip tech company. 

Google’s logo font: 

Custom-built, you won’t be able to find Google’s font in your usual font line-up. Google’s logo is a sans-serif font called, Product Sans, which was created by Google’s in-house design team. As this team was developing this font, they ensured it was pixel-friendly by incorporating bold and streamlined accents. These features allowed for the font to be easily viewed no matter what screen or platform it was on. 

Google’s logo color:

Google’s iconic logo stands out because of its memorable color choices. Google has consistently used red, yellow, blue, and green. As Google is spelled out, the colors appear in the sequence of blue, red, yellow, blue, green, and red. These colors are familiar and whenever someone logs onto Google.com, they are expecting to see those familiar colors. 

These iconic colors were intentional choices. Ruth Kedar, one of the former Google logo designers, once shared that the colors were chosen because they were the primary colors. Where Google differed though was that they elected to add one secondary color, on the “L,” within the logo which symbolizes that Google is not a company that follows the rules. This choice fits into Google’s characteristics of being an innovative company that pushes the boundaries. 

Google’s logo symbols:

At first glance, you likely wouldn’t associate Google’s logo as being a logo with any symbols. When you look deeper though, you see that behind the logo are symbolic components. Take the “G” symbol that was created as a variation of a former logo. This alternate symbol was created in 2015 and with its simplistic nature, it’s a quick identifier of the Google brand, without having the entire Google name written out. 

Another symbolic component is their color choices and Google doodles. The doodles convey a certain holiday or birthday, and the colors represent the mission of Google. At the same time, these colors are eye-catching and visually appealing.

Their latest incorporated symbol is a dynamic one. You’ll find this when you use the voice command feature on a Google device and see the three Google dots bouncing up and down. These dots appear as you speak to show the process of your request, symbolizing that Google is listening to their consumers and the queries their consumers are seeking answers to. 

Google Today

While Google has only been around for less than 25 years, it is a company that is a trendsetter in its industry and a company that constantly sets the standard for what artificial intelligence should be. 

Google regularly has breakthroughs that come out of its artificial intelligence research and innovation departments. Their latest developments include self-driving cars, smart 3D glass, updated Google Maps technology, education initiatives, voice-powered search features, and more. With almost 250 million users in just the United States, and with their parent company, Alphabet Inc., being the fourth largest global company, it doesn’t look like Google has any plans to slow down any time soon. 

Lessons Learned from Google

The biggest takeaway from Google’s logo evolution is that a little attention to detail can go a long way. Google never opted for a complicated logo with tons of components, they always kept it simple and the logo we know today is like the logo we remember from years ago. 

With a logo like Google’s which is one of the most recognizable logos in the world, it’s important to treat their logo evolution as a case study. While Google had a few different iterations, its logo features were never drastically updated or altered. The latest version, which we know today, is simply a more modern and sleeker version. 

When you think about your own business’s logo, Google is a good example of a logo to strive to mimic. You want your company’s logo to be memorable, familiar, and to evolve with your brand. One way you can ensure your logo follows the same principles as Google’s is by using Hatchwise.

With Hatchwise, you can start a logo contest and then our team of creative design professionals will get to work on creating a wide array of logos for you to choose from. 

All you have to do to get started is just reach out to a member of our team today! We’ll work with you to get your contest started and answer any questions you have! 

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