Google logo history: A trip through search engine’s gradually smoothening logo

Google is celebrating its 21st birthday today, marking the occasion with a special Doodle.

But the site has been on a gradual evolution since it began in 1998, slow shedding the design of years past and becoming more smooth – and less objectionable.

At its beginning, Google wasn’t even called by that name – it launched as “BackRub”. That site had a rather obvious picture at the top: a photo of a hairy hand on top of what appears to be skin, with large letter saying “BackRub” placed on top of it.

It became Google in late 1997. The look was a little reminiscent of Word Art of old: the 3D letters tipped back, with strange pixelated edges.

At that time, the site was just as youthful. It was still functioning largely as a search engine for Stanford University, as well as the web, and offered an explanation of what it was at the top with a little text box underneath.

The logo then got slightly more grown-up. It got a little flattened down – the 3D letters becoming curvy rather than looking like real objects – and the colours changed.

Google also briefly got an exclamation mark in 1999. It disappeared a year later.

That shouting logo would be the last very different one that the site would have. Until today’s redesign, the site stuck by its formula: two blue letters, two red and one yellow and one green, all in an entirely unobjectionable serif font.

The company would gradually change that look, moving letters around, softening the colours and getting rid of shadow, but the concept remained the same until 2015.

Most recently, it dropped the serifs that made the letters distinctive but harder to read on the tiny screens of mobiles. In doing so, it recognised one of the most important changes during its 21 years – like Google itself, the logo had been designed to be looked at on screens, but now a huge proportion of web browsing is done from phones and other mobile devices.


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