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Is the Google rebrand a template for education?

Last week, Google announced the evolution of its identity which included a complete rebrand that, in Google’s own words, ‘embraces an expanding, multi-device, multi-screen world’. They also state that the rebrand is necessary to make Google more accessible and useful to it’s users. In fairness to Google, that is as good a reason as any to undertake a rebrand, although in doing so they did send the design and digital world into a frenzy.

Rather than discuss the finer details of the design itself or the connection between the rebrand and the move to a parent company, Alphabet. I would like to draw your attention to the process and the level of detail that they have gone to. Whether you like the new identity or not you have to admire how Google has achieved what they have. If you want to read more about the brand system they created then you can do so on the Google Design website. Here’s my own breakdown.

Essentially, Google has created an in-depth brand standard. This is basically a specification developed to help with consistency across teams working on a wide range of applications. This included guides for screen and print – for everything from the now responsive Logotype, to the freshly animated ‘Google Dots’ that inform a user of certain intelligence or actions. They even considered how this was implemented across all sub brands and products including the likes of Google Maps and Google Plus.

It’s worth acknowledging that all this work has come at a price. Not only did they gather all their designers in New York for a week, they also hired two further agencies to join them. That doesn’t come cheap and for a lot of projects the travel expenses alone would eclipse the budget. However that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t, or more importantly, can’t aspire to their level of professionalism.

As with most aspects of design, Branding is constantly evolving and Google have acknowledged that. They decided to consider every touch point, and for a company that processes 3.5 billion searches per day then that was always going to be a monumental task. As designers, it is important that we educate, and I can’t help but wonder if Google is the template to do this.

Building a brand is not just your logo, it’s your personality, it’s how you and your company/product/service looks, feels, acts and speaks. To achieve this you don’t need a “Google Budget”, you just need consistent standards. A designers job is to facilitate this task, to create consistency and also to consider the problems that otherwise wouldn’t get considered. A professional external perspective will always ask the right questions and really try to get under the skin of a brand.

So what makes Google such a good example?

Google certainly aren’t the first to do this and equally they won’t be the last. The digital world has had a major impact on branding and will continue to do so in the future. Some companies have already acknowledged this, for example the BBC launched it’s ‘Global Experience Language’ back in 2014 without kicking up any fuss.

Yet the Google rebrand did. Why? Probably because they are a household brand that has a part to play in the lives of most demographics. ‘Google’ has become a recognised verb in the Oxford Dictionary. It is a brand that resonates with everyone and Google want everyone to have the same brand experience no matter who you are. There is something to learn from that.

Additionally, Google is a predominantly digital brand. In the past, branding and identities have traditionally been seen as a print based material. This is not the case anymore. We can no longer predict how or when a user may come into contact with your brand. The digital world can now animate and interact with a user, that is way more complex than your standard logo file. This provides major challenges for brands and designers, challenges that Google have taken on head first. That alone should be appreciated, and as I mentioned earlier, whether or not you agree with the new Google design you definitely can’t argue with the process.