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Old MeFi thread where I argue (wrongly

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 27, 2003

Old MeFi thread where I argue (wrongly as it turns out) that Google’s branding efforts suck.

Reader comments

viamaDec 27, 2003 at 10:51AM

wendell’s comment is very prescient.

BrianBDec 27, 2003 at 12:18PM

kottke, you sounded like an idiot.

FirasDec 27, 2003 at 12:33PM

Er, BrianB, Zeldman was saying the same thing.

dtettoDec 27, 2003 at 5:54PM

Is that to say that if Zeldman said it, it couldn’t possibly sound idiotic in retrospect? I think Kottke was saying the same thing as BrianB, more or less.

FirasDec 27, 2003 at 6:12PM

Ok, that was a somewhat stupid post of mine, I’m sure kottke doesn’t need others to back the kottke of three years ago. My point was that Kottke sounds like an idiot but, uh, when Kottke and Zeldman are both saying something I wouldn’t dismiss it as idiotic out of hand. I doubt he sounded like an idiot. Again, a reactionary, the-world-cares-what-i-think post, but that was my point.

On the other hand, the 20/20 retrospective perspective does really add much to that discussion—the whole thing with wendell’s comment (it was probably a joke, right?), and how google didn’t need to change it’s branding, etc.

BrianDec 27, 2003 at 6:42PM

I still think Google’s ugly. :)

TelemakhosDec 27, 2003 at 9:29PM

I agree with Kottke. Google’s logo is horrible. Possibly the worst corporate brand ever. But since it started out as mostly programmers I don’t think you can blame them too much for the logo. They just decided to stay with their old crappy one. On it’s own I think it sucks, but since it represents a respected and useful resource you can give ‘em a little slack. It’s sort of like if a savvy business man wore only a thong to a meeting. He’s still a business man, he just doesn’t look like one. :-D

dtettoDec 28, 2003 at 1:05AM

Plus, while they were establishing the brand their logo only had to beat those of the direct competition. I mean, come on, Yahoo?

BrianBDec 28, 2003 at 1:42AM

People, logos don’t matter. They don’t.

FirasDec 28, 2003 at 5:35AM

People, logos don’t matter. They don’t.

Branding doesn’t matter?

FirasDec 28, 2003 at 6:40AM

The Nike tick thing is terribly potent, you know, as well as the Mercedes ‘emblem’.

ShmuelDec 28, 2003 at 4:27PM

Maybe branding is what we do everyday. Maybe it’s what we say, how we act - the process of accumulating social equity (read: whuffie). Maybe by claiming that everyone should have the best logos, names, and graphics standards manuals we are putting the cart before the horse.

Logos are powerful - they are the visual equivalent of words and as such they invoke meaning. The question then is where does the meaning come from - who we say we are or who we show we are? I think that Google captured our imaginations by doing what they said they would and doing it better than anyone else. I think they have continued to hold our loyalty by being attentive to their users and evolving to meet our needs.

We could look back in hindsight and say, “Wow was I wrong about that logo - look at how they’ve succeeded” but I think that would miss the point. Google didn’t succeed because they have the best logo (in fact personally, I have to agree with Jason, it could use some TLC) - Google has succeeded because they did what they said they would: stay out of the way and provide good search results.

In 2000 we were still formulating an opinion about Google. Today, three years later, we have seen the company grow and stay true to their promises so far. In the future Google may change the way they act and if they do, that logo that looks quaint and charming today will loose it’s luster. A logo has equity only because a company gives it meaning and because of this logos, like words, are alive. They change with time and culture.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.