Brand Design

Why Google just made its biggest mistake

By | Brand Design, Brand Identity, Brand Strategy, digital media
Google's original logo

Google’s original logo

When I was about 10 years old my step dad shaved off his beard.

The entire time I’d known him – since I was 3 – he’d had a huge, wiry brown beard. It had occasionally been trimmed, or left to grow ‘Ned Kelly style’, but the beard was him.

My memory is not clear on why he decided to shave it off after all that time, but suffice to say, in my mind, he’d made a huge mistake.

I actually ran from the room in terror at seeing this ‘strange man’ with a clean face. He was NOT the same person. He was no longer warm and cuddly and entirely trustworthy. He was a clean-shaven stranger masquerading as a trusted figure in our family home.

It sounds ridiculous, but it took me a long time to get over that. I stared and stared at his clean-shaven face for days, unable to process the change that had occurred.

The point was, for me, his identity was inextricably tied to his beard. I trusted that guy with the big beard. Without the beard, how was I to know he could be trusted?

When Google changed its logo recently, it also, shaved off its beard.

As a young, rule-breaking start-up, we grew to love our new friend Google the search engine. It seemed honest, transparent – a start-up for the people. It made things easier, made more things possible.

It kept ‘the big guys’ on their toes – dictating web content priority based on its own magic, secret algorithm, which changed suddenly and without much warning.

But yet, it stayed humble.

For nearly 20 years Google has led the digital transformation – literally stamped out a path for how the internet should function; what people should be able find, on what devices.

And was it even selling anything? Not that we noticed.

Obviously, Google was making a ton of money, but in our eyes, it made it off the backs of rich companies that could afford to advertise. And it even declared the listings that were paid for (See! Still on our ‘side’).

And did it have an ego-maniac at the helm, claiming he was a visionary genius? No, just two PhD students wanting “to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”.

Democratising information – how could you not love that?

As Google grew, the organisation itself seemed like an oasis – Googleplex was the Disneyland of workplaces – interns tripped over themselves to work there. It became the stuff of career mythology.

We grew to love and trust Google so much, we couldn’t help incorporating it into our everyday language – brands don’t turn into verbs overnight!

And with that trust came an assurance that we knew every inch of that humble serif logo. It looked like a semi-broke start-up that a couple of uni students started in a friend’s garage.

It looked like it remembered where it came from.

In contrast, the new logo, to me immediately said ‘multinational faceless corporate brand’ and with that, the trust factor plummeted.

Google's new logo

Google’s new logo

How can a font make that much difference, I hear you ask? Surely it’s just a logo.

As illogical as it might seem, as consumers, we connect with brands emotionally – just like family members – so an unexpected change in appearance can trigger all sorts of seemingly irrational responses.

In the case of Google, nothing about their business model or company history had changed, but the moment they ‘modernised’ their brand mark, I felt they’d forgotten me – forgotten the humble little human who helped Google them to the top of the world.

The importance of brand consistency across social media

The importance of brand consistency across social media

By | Brand Design, Brand Identity, Brand Strategy

So by now we should all know the importance for all businesses to have a strong presence across social media. If you are to look at the strongest brands that are the most successful across social media there is a common thread – they all deliver a consistent brand message.

Whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram they have the same look that identifies their brand immediately and the voice used in their content reflects their brands identity.

There are major benefits from creating a consistent brand presence across all social media including:

  • Increase engagement from followers, liker’s
  • Professionalism – nothing screams amateur like a mash up of design
  • Strengthens brand recall
  • Develop and maintain one brand personality
  • Eliminates confusion

Essentially creating a consistent brand across multiple social media platforms comes down to two elements – how you look and how you sound.


The impact of an impressive design can never be understated in any area of business, and social media is no different. Unlike your website, email or print design there are relatively strict limitations in regards to the space the designer has to work with. Some may say this is restrictive; I’d like to think it fosters creativity.

Facebook page managers can essentially only have brand imagery in two places, the cover photo and the profile picture (for the dimensions of these and other social media check out here). Twitter is more flexible, with background image, header, profile picture and also the ability to style the colour scheme. On the other hand Pinterest and Instagram are pretty much locked down with only a profile picture available to change.

The most important element amongst all these is the profile picture. This should be the same, or a variation of a theme, across all social media and be the main focal point to represent your brand. Make it bold and avoid too much text as it can become hard to read in when the image is displayed as a thumbnail.

For the other spaces use consistent imagery, colours and themes. If your business has a style guide then this a good time to refer to it and design for the respective networks according to your branding guidelines. If not then I recommend you look into developing one.


It can be argued that the voice of a brand on social media is more important than the design itself as it creates a level of humanity which drives the fan engagement more than any logo or graphic ever could. When I speak of a brands voice on social media I refer to the tone of the conversation, the content posted and the way that the brand responds to users.

A brands identity goes far beyond its visual aesthetic and is truly defined by a number of internal and external elements of the business. Certain businesses, like accountants, may want to exude ‘a more serious tone’ at all times, whereas there may be a much more ‘laid back tone’ around the amusement park industry.

The way in which you communicate this voice needs to be consistent across all social media. Be mindful of this when you are posting content and in particular engaging with followers of your brand. There’s no better advocate for a brand than a customer who has had a positive experience engaging with the business and is willing to tell others about it.

Maintaining consistency in both design and voice across all your social media is crucial in keeping up with the competition, engaging your customer base and developing new leads.

Halcyon Creative