Why do businesses change their typeface?


Google recently unveiled its most significant logo redesign since 1999, ditching the sans-serif typeface for a purpose built font that Google called Product Sans.

The announcement prompted people to take to social media in their droves to express their opinions. There was a lot of speculation as to why the company chose to change its typeface in the first place, as people tried to decipher the subtle messages it was trying to convey.

People took to twitter in their thousands to express their views.

Some felt that it had detrimentally “infantilised”:

Others loved the new design:

However, some thought it was fairly unremarkable:

Talking to Fusion, a typography expert, Brian Hoff, described how the former logo felt “a little too serious”.

He said “[the old logo] didn’t feel like it was intended to flow from one letter to the other,” but that now the letters “have this flow to them, a rhythm and a balance.”

A web designer at Slate Magazine, Derreck Johnson, said: “It's amazing what clipping off a few serifs can do.”

For those of you who are wondering what serifs are, they are the little tails that appear on letters in certain typefaces.

They are commonly used on the more traditional style typefaces that still appear in some of the worlds longest running newspapers today, these include the Daily Mail, the Sydney Morning Herald and until very recently the New York Times.

Johnson goes on to say: “Gone are the [previous] logo’s familiar sharp turns, hard edges, and slightly medieval look. Say hello to something a little more fun, bold, and, most importantly, now.”

Google claims that has chosen to do away with serifs on its latest logo in a bid to appear “simple, uncluttered, colourful and friendly”.

The decision came only a month after plans were announced to create new parent company Alphabet who will also use the new Product Sans typeface.

So why the change?

In Google’s early years, its services were accessed from desktop computers, however nowadays, the company faces a growing challenge to be understood on an ever-increasing number of platforms, devices and apps.

The company was looking to retain a “simple, friendly and approachable style” and it was important that the typeface would be easily scalable. In an official blog post, Google says that the new logo underwent extensive testing before it was selected.

The new logo also breaks from the tradition of a company logo (as a static wordmark) and now transforms on the screen as users interact with Google products. For example; when conducting a voice search, the logo morphs into dots that bounce and ripple like sound waves in response to your voice.

Google puts it slightly simpler, explaining; “it doesn’t simply tell you that you’re using Google, but also shows you how Google is working for you.”

“This feels like the evolution of Google as a company,” said Brian Hoff. “They’ve introduced their logo as not just a logo, but a language, a way of understanding Google through design and interaction.”

Author of ‘Logo Design Love’, David Airey explains: “Companies change their typefaces to keep them up to date, or because an old logo no longer fits with a new business strategy. This could range from a small refinement to a complete redesign.”

He goes on to say: “Google is one of the world's most innovative companies, so the previous serif wordmark was never really the right fit, particularly considering the young age of the business.”

“Serif typefaces are generally more suited to traditional companies with a lot of history and heritage. It makes sense for Google to be identified by a more contemporary mark.”

Related article: How branding can make or break a small business

In describing his opinion on the logo redesign, Derreck Johnson said: “I see six letters that represent a youthful, dynamic creativity—a notion that this company was built on.”

“Without that playful spirit, Google isn’t really Google. But of course, we’re talking about a massive media conglomerate here, so they couldn't get too crazy.”

“How does Google show us that they aren’t that stiff? A slightly tilted E.”

What do you think about the new Google logo? Do you prefer it?

Have you faced any difficulties in the past when designing the logo for your own business? Has this article got you thinking about changing it?

Leave your comments below: