Sundae Scroll #6: Google Goes Sans Serif



I’ve been hearing mixed positive and negative comments about Google’s new identity since its release five days ago. From design and typography gurus to simple mere mortals (like us), there is an obvious divide of love and hate going on in the internet.

Here’s my take on the new announcement: I love it.


Let me repeat what I said in the first sentence: Google’s new identity. There’s a fine line between logo and identity. By definition, a brand identity is the overall look of a brand’s communications achieved by the use of visual elements to create distinction. This includes fonts, colors, and graphic elements. At the core of every brand identity is the logo. It’s the first and most frequent thing you would see in every brand and it sets the mood about everything that embodies the organization.

Knowing Google over the years, the brand screams a certain simplicity, creativity and childlike playfulness, particularly in innovation. From the four-color 1998 balloon-type design to the Y2K era of beveled edges to the evangelization of the flat design trend in 2013, everything was designed using the playful and colorful but intelligent-looking serif font.


However, the logo seems to have a problem which Google finally decided to solve and present to us in one of their most drastic brand changes to date. But why kill the serif?

Let me break it down for you in three points.


Try to open Illustrator, or any graphic program of your choice, and attempt to recreate the logo yourself. You’d notice a whole lot of difference between the old and new logo.

Your typical serif can be created using bezier curves (and a collection of anchor points, or the dots you see in the image below) and would have the tiny decorative lines apart from the regular strokes. The old Google logo was based on the Catull fontface, an old serif type font, with a total of around 100 bezier curves.


Meanwhile, the new logo can be constructed from either 1-2 line strokes with adjusted weight…


…or a combination of 1-2 circles and rectangles for every character (with the exception of the lowercase g, which would take around 7 anchor points).


Render your images and compare the difference between the size of the file. From the point mentioned previously, it’s already easy to tell by the amount of graphic elements that the new logo would result to a smaller file size than the old one.


Serifs work best in huge amounts of text. They are designed for readability. Notice the books you read in schools, or the novels you read during your free time.

A serif, when used with less amounts of texts like logos, is hard to scale. There is a possibility that it would look or read differently when scaled up or down. Take, for example, the old and new favicon. For a person with poor eyesight like me, the standalone lowercase g of a serif sometimes looks like an 8.



As a typography enthusiast, a serif is a beautiful underrated thing. It’s beautiful, but sometimes it can be evil… especially when rendering on low bandwidth. As I’ve mentioned previously, the old logo amounts to a larger file size because of its extra decorative elements. To load it properly in your device, you must be gifted with bandwidth… and patience. Otherwise, you sacrifice the whole look.




Size matters. We are in an era where the amount of data is overwhelming and exponentially increasing. People use predominantly mobile phones over laptops and desktop computers. Hence, every byte counts and every element must look the same regardless of its size. With its new identity, Google answered most of the problems encountered using the serif. It is now scalable and low-bandwidth-friendly. You did not just save your time loading every element, even on the tiniest of screens. You also saved your bytes. This change isn’t just about the visuals but also about the functionality. It’s as simple as that, and I love it for all these reasons.

While it remains true to its simple and playful brand using the geometric-sans-inspired four-color logotype, this change recently unveiled by Google is a sign that the company is promising an expansion that is both unconventional and innovative. Admit it. Google changed the way we live, and they still are. It has become a part of our everyday lives that regardless of whether you love or hate the new branding, I believe you’d still use it anyway.




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