Last week, Yahoo topped off a monthlong campaign, teasing users with tantalizing glimpses at alternate-dimension logos, and finally showed off the final design. Yahoo isn’t the only big tech company in Silicon Valley rolling out a new logo: Google is preparing its own logo redesign too. Unlike Yahoo, Google is choosing to run silent and deep with their new logo design, at least so far. But in many ways, the mark has been in the works almost as long as Google has been around.
Although the company has yet to officially announce any details, a new Google logo has been spotted in the SDK for the Chrome for Android Beta, where it was temporarily visible on the new tab page before Google quickly pulled the asset, but not before Ars Technica took notice. You can also see the new design live on Google’s servers here.
While it’s not a dramatic change, it’s certainly a more appropriate logo for a modern Google. The search giant has been actively distancing itself from skeuomorphism since 2011, when Google’s Chrome team took their bulbous, ’90s-looking Chrome logo and ran over it with a steamroller, moving the icon toward a simpler and more abstract look. At the time, Google’s Chrome team justified the move by saying the primary benefit of a flatter design was that it allowed them to maintain consistency across print, the web, and other possible media formats. Ever since then, Google has been at the vanguard of Silicon Valley’s push toward flatter design trends in all of their products, with the ironic exception of their official logo.
Given where Google’s design ethos has been heading the last few years (see, for example, how Google unified its products with a simple index card, it makes sense that the search giant would want to make its logo less discordant with their other products. But you could make the argument that Google has been “going flat” for years now. By putting the proverbial iron to their logo and totally eliminating its faux 3-D shading, Google is completing a gradual flattening process that it started way back in 1999, when it let some air out of its current balloon-animal logotype, slimming down the font and calming down the aggressive shadowing. In May 2010, Google changed its logo again, subtly dialing back the more three-dimensional aspects of the logo’s design. With the most recent version, any semblances of three-dimensionality or an outside light source have been eliminated entirely. The Google mark is now as flat as it can get.
When Google will pull the trigger and roll this design out across all of its products is unknown, but it’s coming. This may deceptively look like a small change, but it’s actually the culmination of 14 years of evolution for the Google logo: never a matter of if, but always of when.