Why Google Can Constantly Evolve Its Brand

Google consistently ranks as one of the most recognized and beloved brands of all time. It spawned a verb – everybody “Googles,” nobody “searches” – and effectively took over the Internet. It changed the world, and had an indelible impact on the way that we as a society seek out information.

It should feel strange that such an iconic brand is constantly evolving with its Google Doodles. There seems to be a new logo for every day of the week; sometimes celebrating major national or global occasions, such as New Years or the solstice, but more often commemorating relatively obscure figures and holidays. The logo that went up on September 10, 2018, for example, honored the 111th birthday of Dr. Dorothy Hill, a geologist and paleontologist who became the first female professor at an Australian university. On November 9th , Google featured a logo that celebrated Amanda Crowe, an Eastern Band Cherokee woodcarver known for her sculptures of animals.

Most brands would not be able to get away with this kind of undertaking. In Google’s case, it actually significantly strengthens their brand, as it plays into the core tenets of their identity:

Timeliness There is an expectation that Google is always going to update as quickly as users want and need it to, and is always going to be able to show them the most up-to-date, relevant results to their query. By rotating their logo on a near-daily basis to something topical, Google reinforces the idea that they alone are capable of evolving with the speed of information.

Discovery Google has built its brand on the concept of information discovery and learning. By introducing users to important yet lesser-known innovators and events, they strengthen their position as a source for expanding one’s worldview and connection to society.

Omnipresence Google is well aware of the fact that many users visit the search engine multiple times a day. Because of this reliance and the sheer magnitude of the company’s presence, Google has no real need to fortify the recognizability of their brand. By changing their logo so often, they prove that they can.

As stated, most brands could not successfully pull this off, because they are not in Google’s position. However, there is a valuable lesson here for all brand managers, which is that the traditional rules of branding can and should be bent to the needs and unique qualities of individual companies. There is no one set of branding guidelines that will work for every brand, and even the advice that seems like the biggest and most important element of good branding practices – such as maintaining a recognizable logo – can prove to be irrelevant in reality.

Once brand leaders work to establish a strong identity and presence, they may find that design directions that initially seem edgy and experimental actually, in fact, make perfect sense for their brand. Risk is at the heart of innovation, and big brands are realizing that trusting their identity and taking chances is key for staying ahead in the market.

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