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TODD SMITH — Google’s new logo is its biggest update in 16 years

TODD SMITH

TODD SMITH

You may have noticed Google has a new logo that’s sleeker, brighter, and for the first time, animated. And then, you probably won’t notice it at all.

It’s been a long time since the Google we know has just been a logo sitting on top of a search bar. The company makes whole operating systems for laptops, phones, watches, and smart home products. They’re building cars that don’t need you to drive them. And even search is a lot more complex than it once was. Google doesn’t just find you a link anymore, it responds to your voice, maps you to a restaurant based upon your context, and then, if you like, uses underlying intelligence to predictively plan every other moment of your day.

Google went from being the way we find trivia to becoming the digital infrastructure of our lives.

And in turn, they’ve created a new logo and brand identity..

The New, Scalable Typeface

The most immediate change is the typeface of the logo itself. Since 1999, Google has used a serif wordmark (serifs are the filigree on the ends of traditional print typefaces like Times New Roman). Along the way, the company has tweaked letter spacing and removed the drop shadow, but other than that, the Google logo of 2015 is the same as it was in the last millennium: like the name of an encyclopedia printed in elementary basic colors.

Now, Google has updated the logo with a sans-serif typeface (think Helvetica) that’s actually Google’s own creation. Called Product Sans, we got a first peek of it in the company’s Alphabet logo, and at a glance, it undoubtedly looks more modern than the old alternative. But sans-serif typefaces are popular these days for another reason than some attempt at dot com cool: their streamlined glyphs shrink down to tiny sizes with more legibility than the more ornamental serif lettering. So Google has created a logo that can read as well on a 2.5-inch Android Wear watch face as it does your 50-inch TV playing Chromecast.

Of course, in some contexts, even the smallest version of six whole letters is too much to fit. So Google also introduced an abridged “G” logo, itself rendered in the four colors of the full Google logo, for the tightest of spots.

An Animated Life

The greater update, however, is that Google’s logo is no longer a static wordmark. Like many brands, they’ve shifted from a paper-first, static logo to a dynamic, animated figure that’s only possible on screens. When Google is called to action, the letters of “Google” transform into a series of four dots that morph and orbit with life.

So as you begin a voice search, the Google logo will morph from “Google” into the dots, which undulate like water in anticipation of your query. As you talk, the dots will become an equalizer, reacting to the sound of your vocalizations. Then when you’re done talking, the waveform become dots again, which spin as Google looks up your results. Then once the results are presented, the dots return to good old “Google” again.

It’d be easy to pigeonhole this animated flourish as nothing more than Google’s ongoing quest for beautification. But in reality, the animations serve as a way for Google to hold the hand of the user through varying, complicated workflows. Take the aforementioned voice search: whether it’s the tranquil waves that seem to be waiting for action, or the spinning dots that convey, “things are happening! even if you don’t know what they are,” each animation serves to prompt or reinforce user behavior in an era when Google will move from the relatively simple interactions behind search to more varied and complicated mediums (remember Google is building a self-driving car). And, if nothing else, a bit of animation shows that Google hasn’t fallen asleep at the wheel.

It’s Google

As the company introduced its new identity, Google did something that’s pretty rare in the world of branding. In one behind-the-scenes photo, they revealed a few alternatives that had also been considered. In most cases, you can see that designers felt the wider, circular-G was the way to go. One version was “google” in lowercase. Another had eight small dots rather than four. And several explorations played off of the pure manipulation of very basic geometry. (They drew every letter of Google with nothing more than circles and semicircles—save for that pesky “l”.)

What they decided on isn’t groundbreaking – no creative directors will be scrambling to update their brands – but it’s tasteful, flexible, and most importantly, very much Google. Like any new logo, Google’s latest creation will look odd for the first minute or so. But all you have to do is go back and look at the old – okay, yesterday’s – serif logo to see it really was time for an update.

Men Catch Up With Women On Overall Social Media Use

Historically, women have been more avid users of social media than men – a finding consistent across several Pew Research Center surveys. In fact, in November 2010, the gender gap was as large as 15 percentage points.

More recent data, however, show that these differences are no longer statistically significant. A new Pew Research Center analysis finds that a similar share of men and women say they used social networking sites this year, consistent with findings in 2014. Some 73 percent of online men use social media, which is on par with the 80 percent of online women who say they do so.

Although the overall percentage of men and women who report using social media is now comparable, there are still some gender differences on specific platforms. Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram have a larger female user base, while online discussion forums like Reddit, Digg or Slashdot attract a greater share of male users. Gender differences on Twitter, Tumblr and LinkedIn are not significant.

Female internet users are roughly three times as likely as their male counterparts to use Pinterest (44 percent vs. 16 percent). But despite this consistent gap, use by males has increased rapidly since 2012, when only 5 percent of online men said they used this online pinboard. (This growth is perhaps a result of the company’s efforts to woo more men to the site.)

While most of these gender differences tend to be consistent across Pew Research Center surveys, the gender gap for LinkedIn has narrowed over time. Today, a roughly equal proportion of internet-using men (26 percent) and women (25 percent) use the professional networking site. The share of women who use LinkedIn has steadily increased since 2010, when only 12 percent of women used the platform.

Grounded Mic | Delta’s Shame Sham

When online customers attempt to purchase the least expensive tickets for a Delta Airlines flight, a pop-up warning appears on the screen, informing the buyers of all the perks they won’t get unless they upgrade. While Delta claims the process simply ensures transparency, consumer advocacy group FlyersRights.org says customers are being shamed and pressured into purchasing more expensive tickets.

The message in question appears on the screen when a customer attempts to purchase tickets in the Basic Economy category, which, thanks to Delta’s new five-tiers of service, has been compared to “Economy Minus,” and carries even fewer benefits than the previous bottom-of-the-barrel Economy class.

Through this message, customers are reminded that they will be the last to board and the last to access overhead compartments, they will not have seat assignments until after checking in, they cannot change, upgrade, or be refunded for their tickets, and they will be subjected to a whole host of other annoyances.

Delta’s message to customers is “your flight is going to stink,” and earns the mammoth airline brand – and its shame campaign – a black eye and a Grounded Mic.

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.

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