Google’s original logo designer reflects on a ‘bittersweet’ run
Google’s decision this week to make the most significant change yet to its iconic logo in 16 years set off a fury of responses online: 9,500 comments on Google’s blog post, countless tweets and articles for and against the redesign.
But arguably no one had a more personal reaction to the logo change than Ruth Kedar, thegraphic designer who created the original logo in 1999.
“I am the quote unquote mother of the previous child who has gone away and come back in a slightly modified form, so I’m adjusting to that,” Kedar said in a phone interview with Mashable on Wednesday.
She refuses to cast judgment on the design changes too quickly. “I’m still wrapping my head around it.”
While working as a teacher at Stanford in 1999, she met with two of the school’s students — Larry Page and Sergey Brin — who were building a new Internet search company and looking for some help designing a logo.
“It wasn’t a known brand. We were dealing with trying to make a dent and an impression that was at first sight very different than what was available then,” Kedar says of the goal for that original logo. “Play was important. Differentiation was important… Now we are seeing a completely new interpretation of that.”
This week Google ditched the serif typeface Kedar designed for its logo in 1999 and replaced it with a new typeface called Product Sans. The makeover is a thorough one: For the first time, the Google logo is animated. The range of colors is similar to earlier versions, but more vivid. And the lowercase “g” that appears as shorthand for the logo in tabs has been replaced by a more colorful uppercase “G.”
Unlike some in the media, however, Kedar was not surprised by Google’s decision to make major branding changes. If anything, she was surprised it took so long.
“I was expecting some changes after Alphabet,” Kedar says, referring to Google’s decision last month to restructure and create a new parent company. “There have been a lot of changes in the company and the product line and technology and the media in which we display… So I’ve been surprised that they haven’t done something beforehand.”
Kedar’s association with what would become a world-famous brand helped as she set up her own design studio. “It got me to some level of notoriety and definitely has opened doors,” she says. Google’s logo change may result in a change to her personal brand as well. “People need to now refer to me as the FGLD — the former Google logo designer.”
Not that she’s complaining.
“My 15 minutes [of fame]were a little bit longer than that. When I did this design, nobody had thought that it would be what it has become,” she says. “Of course it’s always bittersweet when something of yours that perhaps was held in some ways is now held in a different way. But it’s a fantastic opportunity to move on.”
“Now I can make room for the next 15 minutes of fame.”