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Logo Redesign: It’s What All The Search Engines Are Doing
By: ML Haynes
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First we heard that Yahoo! was heading into a logo redesign and that we’d get to witness the process through a 30-day “reveal” of the concepts and contenders. That ordeal peaked when the final logo debuted — replacing the previous, near-decades old mark — and we got a blow-by-blow description of a mad weekend full of Bezier curves and tilted exclamation points.

Yahoo logos - old and new

Next we heard that Google had flattened their logotype, letting curious coders discover the “new” identity tucked within an Android programmers' kit. Denials were made. Explanations given. And while we haven’t seen the new identity (colors changed too) replace the doodles we know and love, we may soon see a flat logo showing up in smaller spaces — think tablet-sized smartphones.

Google logo - old and new

The latest instance of search engine soul-searching now shows up with a complete overhaul of the Bing logo. That’s right. The round edges and whimsy have been updated to sharper corners and product line compatibility. "Bing has typically been kind of curly, softer, so this fits much more with the modern kind of approach we've taken on some of the other logos," says Microsoft's Lawrence Ripsher, a design lead for Bing’s User Experiences.

Bing logo - old and new

So, why would the top search engines seemingly chase each other to win an identity race? How is it that the top three brands have come out with freshened up, and in one case completely new, logotypes? I’ve tried to think of another time, another niche, where this level of change has happened in such proximity. And I wonder what sparked the mass movement toward change.

A couple of things come to mind (and I’m curious to see what others think):
  • The infatuation with and application of flat design — supported by recent updates to mobile interfaces and pattern libraries — appears to have had influence on those designers responsible for corporate and product identity.
  • The migration to smaller screens — and, at last, the diminishing effect of print requirements on initiatives — seems to now drive more and more of the corporate and product branding that’s debuted this year.
  • And finally, a move toward the simplification of symbols looks to have finally curbed the tendency to throw everything at a design, particularly a design that represented so much and had the impact of brand and identity.
What do you think? Is it mere coincidence that the three top search players have lauded or leaked updated identities over the last few weeks? Or have we just witnessed a game, maybe a gamble, that used precious assets (logos and identity) as tokens or tablestakes?

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About the Author

ML Haynes, hybrid creative and interactive director, pixel pusher and wordsmith, strategist and activist, thinks out loud here. Follow her on Twitter.

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