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4 Things Google Taught Us About Successfully Refreshing Your Brand

4 Things Google Taught Us About Successfully Refreshing Your Brand

What do Pringles and Google have in common? One would think not a lot — but one would be mistaken. In 2015, we took a look at Pringles’ brand refresh strategy and discovered four successful elements that apply broadly to all brands looking for a little extra oomph. Looking back at 2016, we see that these strategies were also successfully employed by Google (one of the top 10 best-loved brands of the year). So what are those four key takeaways and how did they translate to Google marketing’s goals and strategy? I’m glad you asked.

Redefine your market

Shockingly, Google is almost 20 years old. Initially, it was “one destination that you reached from one device: a desktop PC. These days, people interact with Google products across many different platforms, apps, and devices — sometimes all in a single day,” said Tamar Yehoshua, VP of product management, and Bobby Nath, director of user experience. As it has evolved and grown, Google is not just catering to one audience; its products, services, and overall capabilities have touched almost every area of the marketplace. And it has had to adapt to flourish in a mobile age.

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Contemplate a (minor) facelift

Though its logo has always been elegant, the new sans serif font (Product Sans) was created as a means to introduce its new “identity family,” comprising the logotype, dots in motion, the Google G, and the four colors. Each individual element represents the evolution of the Google product and the work of many teams across the company. As Google describes it, the company took the Google logo and branding that was originally developed for a single desktop browser page and updated them for use across devices and with different kinds of inputs. An example is its new logotype: the old serif typeface was approximately 14,000 bytes, requiring more bandwidth to load, whereas the new Product Sans is only 305 bytes.

But overall, the changes are subtle and still align with the traditional Google brand.

Connect outside the lines

With the Pixel phone, the first in a new line of Google products released last fall, Google sought “to ensure that every element of the user experience created a consistent tone — one that not only expressed the Google brand in new dimensions, but also stayed true to our core design principles of simplicity, intelligence, customization, and trustworthiness,” according to Google’s Daniel Walsh, product design lead, and Conor O’Sullivan, sound design lead. And it did this with visual and audio elements, wallpapers and soundscapes, respectively. But, in order to offer a uniquely Google experience, it partnered not only with Google Earth but also with contemporary artists Jamie Chung and Zack Seckler, building on its existing brand but crossing over into a more “emotional narrative.” For example, Seckler’s aerial wildlife photos hearken to Google Earth imagery but are made personal by the focus on animals rather than geography.

Keep it simple and consistent

Google is nothing if not simple and consistent. True, it sows its wild oats with Google Labs, but you always recognize a Google product because the company never strays too far from its core branding. Again, the new logotype is a perfect example: the shape and color of the letters remain the same, but the finished product is simpler and streamlined. With Pixel, it seeks to “[showcase] the best of what Google has to offer” in an effort to “target a demographic interested in a premium Android device with a confidently minimal experience,” Walsh and O’Sullivan say.

Though it may not be earthshaking, the amount of thought and work that went into revamping Google’s brand identity from front to back is deceptively shrouded in such a consistently simple outward appearance. Google created the below video to show the evolution of the brand. 

Like Pringles, Google refreshed its brand but stayed true to its iconic heritage. As a matter of fact, not only are the visual changes aligned with Google’s brand promise and way of being, but the entire process from front- to back-end development is exactly what you would expect from the company. This holistic thinking was key to a successful implementation. B2B and B2C companies can follow these four simple guidelines as part of their branding strategy to ensure they stay with the times but maintain historical integrity. 

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