Most brands wouldn't let a designer anywhere near their logo
unless they were embarking on a redesign. The rules laid out in
their style guide would ensure that their logo remained
untouchable, locked into its placement, colour and proportions. It
is sound branding theory: be consistent and recognisable with your
Google is quite happy to mess with their identity. Their now
famous doodles tweak, pull and embellish their logo regularly, and
with gusto. Many of them are so divorced from the regular script
that users have to just trust that it says 'Google', because they
certainly can't read that.
Google has produced, by their own
estimates, more than a thousand doodles. The message that comes
through is clear: not only do they value innovation and
playfulness, but they're confident enough in their own brand to
break the rules and take the consistency risk.
And yet somehow, when it's Google doing it, fiddling with a logo
isn't messy and chaotic; it's energetic, engaging and zeitgeisty.
And I think the reason it works is because the doodles are about
much more than being casual about branding. They have a much more
powerful purpose - to connect with people on the things that they
Yesterday's doodle was in honour of Miriam Makeba's
81st birthday.What does Google have to do with iconic
South African music, you might ask. Or with the struggle against
apartheid? Well, nothing really.
But if you watched the reactions unfold on social media, you
would have seen that they struck gold. South African web users were
delighted that one of our heroines was being honoured. It really
touched people that Google recognised someone that we care so
deeply about. It isbrand relevanceat its most powerful - taking
something that your community loves, and celebrating it with them.
Google starts with their users, not their own brand, and that's
what makes the doodles work.
The delight it elicited also made me acutely aware of how few of
our own brands are getting this right. So little of our own culture
is celebrated; so few of our folk heroes are honoured and so few of
our consumers feel respected. It helps to be the world's biggest
search engine when you're figuring out what people love - but
there's no reason why every marketer in South Africa isn't trying
to figure out exactly the same thing.