The Google logo has been a symbol of innovation for a good few years since the inception back in the late 1990s. Along with the standard logo, the Google Doodle has also become a figure of importance, with numerous designs indicating major events, famous birthdays or simply showing support for specific initiatives. Earlier this week, Google showcased one of their more addictive Google Doodles, celebrating Robert Moog’s 78th birthday. This Doodle made for exciting news across many tech blogs around the world, showcasing the importance and excitement that is the Google Doodle.
Even before the official launch of Google Inc., the first Google Doodle concept was birthed when founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, altered the corporate logo when attending the Burning Man festival in 1998. The Doodle was intended to indicate to the Google public that the founders were “Out of Office.” For a short period after the first Doodles were created, Google opted to outsource designs to contractors. Google employee, Dennis Hwang, was tasked with designing a logo for Bastille Day in 2000, and has been head of the design team ever since.
The most frequent use of the Google Doodles have been for birthdays of several noted artists and scientists, including Andy Warhol, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Rabindranath Tagore, Louis Braille, Percival Lowell, Edvard Munch, Nikola Tesla, Béla Bartók, René Magritte, John Lennon, Michael Jackson, Robert Moog, Akira Kurosawa, H. G. Wells, Freddie Mercury, Samuel Morse, Hans Christian Ørsted, Mahatma Gandhi, Dennis Gabor, Constantin Brancusi, Antonio Vivaldi, Abdel Halim Hafez, and Jules Verne among others.
Although many of us are intrigued by Google Doodles, we often miss the importance of the event the design team have chosen to highlight. Doodles are also customised based on regions, culture and religious holidays. As seen in the Doodle below, Doodles can be used to indicate significant dates in different countries; this Doodle indicating Freedom Day in South Africa in 2011. Examples of other events in a specific country are election and independence days, amongst others.
Another example for the use of Google Doodle is to highlight major events happening on the day in question. In July 2010, a Doodle was used to draw attention to the FIFA World Cup Final between the Netherlands and Spain, which Spain won 1-0 after extra time. Despite some abstract Doodles in the past, the word “Google” will always be visible in one form or another.
On occasion, Google will use a special colourless logo on a local home page in acknowledgment of a major tragedy. This design was first used on the Google Poland page after their president, Lech Kaczynski was killed in a plane crash in April 2010. The logo appeared again just a few days later in China and Hong Kong in memory of the victims of the Qinghai earthquake.
On the 18th January 2012, Google blacked out their logo in protest against SOPA, and was visible only to residents in the States. It’s hard to imagine large corporates throwing their weight behind public appeals, but Google have proven that despite the scale of their business, they are still forerunners in support of such events, innovation and originality.
From humble and simple beginnings, the Google Doodle has played a significant role in bringing important news and events to the fore. Google Doodles defy an age old belief of brand management: “your logo should be respected, and used correctly and consistently at all times”, while a frequently changing logo is considered to reduce brand equity. Although this remains true for most brands, Google has repeatedly and effectively defied this convention.
Over the years, Google has included numerous interactive Doodles that engage users. We take a walk down memory lane, highlighting a few of the more treasured Doodles:
[Click on the images to view the interactive Doodles on the Google site]