Branding 101 says to establish your company brand and then be consistent. Place your brand everywhere and under no circumstances should you change that brand. Use specific PMS colors to print on slick stock and different PMS shades on uncoated stock. The RGB values and hex codes are specified. Maintain a clearance distance of x space around the logo. Never change the size relationship between the mark and the text. And never, ever, under any circumstances, or risk your own personal safety, alter the logo. It’s sacred!
Then along comes Google who proceeds to turn this Branding 101 rule on its head. Visitors to google.com sometimes see a creative interpretation of the Google logo, based on the date. Like today’s logo celebrating the birth of H. G. Wells. A mouse over explains the topic and a click on the logo takes you to a Google search of that topic.
New designs may be related to a holiday like New Year’s or St. Patrick’s Day. It may be an event like the Olympics. It may even be to celebrate the birth of a famous author, or artist, or inventor. Do any of these look familiar?
Google will customize its holiday logos specifically for certain countries, only displaying in that country. Most Americans have never seen these logos.
Why would Google practice such blatant blasphemy of it’s company brand? Two reasons come to mind. First, it gives people something to talk about on the web…builds some Google buzz. Secondly, it gives people a reason to go to the Google search page occasionally…to see the creative logo. Otherwise, with the integration of search into web browsers and websites, there in not much of a reason to ever visit google.com! I also think Google does it because it’s fun and it supports their company culture and brand of being different and “going outside the lines.” It’s a brilliant example of the old adage, “There’s an exception to every rule.”
Google archives all of the logos on its website so don’t worry if you missed the recent “crop circles” logo or the “unexplained phenomenon” logo that you heard all the buzz about. You’ll find all of them dating back to the very beginning of Google. What is “Burning Man Festival” anyway?
Oh, and if you find one that you really like and wish was your default Google logo, there is a new greasemonkey script for Firefox that will enable you to pick your favorite Google logo to display by default.
To see all of Google’s holiday logos, visit the company’s website, but remember to never, ever, ever alter your company brand. Unless you are Google or you have a strategic reason for doing so.