A lot of things are brewing inside the tech giant. For starters, the company has caught the tech and business world off-guard last month with the announcement of a corporate restructuring and the introduction of Alphabet—a holding company that would compartmentalise the various business ventures of the tech giant, with Google being a separate wholly-owned subsidiary. Just recently, Google rolled another major revamp by introducing a new logo—the biggest branding redesign since 1999.
Why Google changed its logo? It is important to note that companies usually undergo a series of branding evolution throughout time. Some of the reasons include rebranding, change in name, and simplification or removal of potential hindrances.
Another interesting reason is modernisation. After all, taste and preference change with the passing of time. There are companies whose logos were designed several years and what was fashionable back then may not be now. This is especially true for Google.
The prior logo of Google featured a serif typeface. It was introduced in 1999 when serifs were cool and major publications deemed them as suitable and more readable for desktop monitors that sans serifs.
As a backgrounder, a serif is a small line attached to the end of a stroke in a letter or symbol. A typeface with serifs is essentially called a serif typeface and one popular example is Times New Roman. On the other hand, a typeface that lacks serifs is called sans serif. Think of Arial as an example.
Between the two, serifs instil a traditional vibe, reminiscent of the early days of the printing press and the golden age of print media.
But Google is regarded as one of the most innovative technology company. Serifs are starting to become outdated and those who are expert in typology and graphic designers would agree that serifs are more suited to companies with a lot of history and heritage. Thus, the move to change the “Google” typeface from serif to sans serif stems from the need to further position the company as a young and innovative brand.
There is also a more logical reason why Google clipped off those serifs apart from aesthetic preference. From a mere search engine accessible via desktop computers, the company offers a range of services and products that are available in diverse platforms—from smartphones, tablet devices, and even wearable technologies, among others.
The decision to choose a sans serif typeface for the new Google logo may perhaps be the final straw to the longstanding “serif versus sans serif” debate.
According to people familiar with typography and designers, serifs are simply outmoded in this age of digital communication. Although they are not bad, they are more appropriate or easier to read in printed works. The reason for this is that serifs make the individual letters more distinctive and easier for the human brain to recognise quickly.
Those serifs simply guide the horizontal flow of eyes while reading while also binding letters into a cohesive word wholes. Without serifs, the brain will have a hard time distinguishing letters because their shape would be less distinctive.
On the other hand, sans serif fonts are better on digital print or electronic mediums. Printed works usually have a resolution of at least 1000 dots per inch whereas screen displays typically have around 100 to 300 dots per inch. A serif typeface would normally look pixelated in display screens with lower dpi.
Sans serif is better in digital displays because the fonts survive reproduction and smearing because of their simple forms. In addition, when a sans serif typeface is blown up, the letters retain the general shapes.
A sans serif typeface would be more appropriate and readable in a variety of screen displays because it is easily scalable according to Google.
“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,” said the company in an official blog post. “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.”
Change is inevitable. However, there are those who are somehow unforgiving as regards the new Google logo as evidenced from social media rants. Some consider the typeface as childish. Others regard it as oversimplified. But there are those who embraced the change, crediting Google for the simplistic and modern vibe.
Of course, like any other change, it is normal for it to look wrong as it stirs a sense of unfamiliarity or detachment. However, over time, it will look normal again and perhaps, people will hardly remember that it did change.