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Google's New Favicon: Not My Favorite

At the end of last week, Google made a small change that's been bugging me a little ever since. It changed its favicon -- the little "favorites icon" graphic that displays in the address bar and bookmarks or favorites menus of most browsers -- to a new, much more colorful design.

This is the second time Google has changed this, and I'm not sure why. Last summer, its favicon was a simple, blue, capital-letter "G" set in a white square and had been so for the last eight and a half years. But in June, that shifted to a lower-case "g," in about the same shade of blue but without any background. Why? In a blog post, Google vice president Marissa Mayer and web designer Micheal Lopez explained:

The reason is that we wanted to develop a set of icons that would scale better to some new platforms like the iPhone and other mobile devices. So the new favicon is one of those, but we've also developed a group of logo-based icons that all hang together as a unified set.

google_favicons.jpg

Now things have changed yet again -- the lower-case g has gone in for a paint job. It now appears in white inside a set of color fields matching the red, yellow, green and blue of the characters in Google's logo. (The graphic at right includes blown-up examples of the old and new icons.) Why another change? Google's Mayer and Lopez posted a new item on its blog, saying that it responded to all the people who sent in new favicon ideas after its last change:

We were impressed by the volume of submissions we received, and today we are happy to introduce a new Google favicon inspired by those submissions by our users.

Much as I hate to critique a choice as personal as one's online heraldry, this new icon just doesn't do much for me. It's too loud, and the outlined "g" drowns too easily between those colored icebergs. (Note that in the winning submission, the "g" appears at the center of the icon, but Google then elected to shift it to the left.) And if the color fields remind me of anything, it's South Africa's flag, not Google -- which, after all, doesn't have any blocks of color in its logo, just a series of letters.

I'm not the only one disappointed by the change; see, for instance, the skeptical reaction at the Google Operating System blog. How about you? Does this change bug you at all? Or had you not noticed it until reading this post?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  January 16, 2009; 12:50 PM ET
Categories:  The Web  
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Comments

One assumes there's a reasonably-simple hack to replace a website's favicons with the user's own choice? Could be a humorous post:

MS: Death Star (or Vader's face?)
Apple: U.N. logo (or Al Gore's face?)
Google: Angel's wings & halo (or God's face? lol)

Posted by: annoyed5 | January 16, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I do not like it either. It's the same colors as MS and AVG.

Google's icon is the MS icon rotated 90*

AVG's icon is an inverted mirror image of the MS icon.

Enough with the Blue, Red, Green, Yellow. Enough!

Posted by: MStreet1 | January 16, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Rob:

I believe you should expect more changes. Google announced a couple of months ago that they would experiment. Personally, I would like different icons for each of the different services - maps, mail, notes (if they keep it) docs, etc. to show up on my Firefox tabs. I like the lower case g for corporate.

Posted by: PoliticallyNaive | January 16, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Well, the big capital G in a white square was likely something slapped together by one of Google's engineers in a hurry to provide some sort of icon. I believe it may have first appeared in Google Desktop when it was first released. Perhaps it was in an iteration of the Google Toolbar.

So, it made sense for them to try to come up with an official logo for branding reasons, and one of the goals of doing this usually involve some sort of transparency. Rather than a big blocky square with a background color, most logos will have areas around the edges where the background can show through.

At that point, they went with the lower case g. People complained. People hated it. People wanted it gone. So, now, the people got what they wanted - a change. And now, people are complaining. Not quite as many, mind you, but plenty still are. No matter WHAT Google changes to, someone is going to complain.

In fact, if Google changed back to the capital G in a white square, someone will complain. Heck, *I* will complain. I thought the big G in a white square looked... well, "slapped together." The lower-case "g" seemed overly simplistic, but it was tempered enough to grow on me. I was bothered, at first, by the new logo, but I have quickly grown to appreciate the fact that it stands out. If I have multiple tabs open and I want to find the Google tab, it's really easy to find now.

Posted by: BIGELLOW | January 16, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

My G on the Google toolbar went to the color one earlier this week...now it's back to the blue on white...go figure.

Posted by: tbva | January 16, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Stupid. It's ugly, but more to the point, it's like McDonald's screwing around with their logo.

Companies kill for that kind of brand awareness, and Google messing around their famous favicon (the first big G one) is an indication of real corporate stupidity... they should just go back to the first one, and write this off as a bad experiment.

Don't mess with one of your most golden assets...

Posted by: felchdiplomat | January 17, 2009 2:54 AM | Report abuse

You can't make everybody happy. I believe every single pixel there has a meaning behind it. The 'g' is not as pronounced now having become a negative space formed by the signature Google colors. I have become used to it.

Posted by: jackdaniels08 | January 17, 2009 3:56 AM | Report abuse

I'm with Rob. The blue lower-case «g» was just the sort of minimalistic logo one (I) would associate with Google. The new logo is just too loud for my taste....

Henri

Posted by: mhenriday | January 17, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I've had countless friends say that they hate the new favicon, and I do too. I much preferred the previous one. The new one looks like the logo of a discount grocery store or something, not Google.

Posted by: misere | January 17, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Everyone still remember the 'new coke' disaster. Then 'old coke' returned BY POPULAR DEMAND.

The lesson -- if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

I think we will be seeing a 'shake out' of a number of things that 'aren't broke' but are being 'fixed' [upgraded] anyway.

Sort of like NEW Tide, NEW Crest or even NEW Astroglide, recommended by [New] Astronauts -- ugh. LOL

Posted by: brucerealtor@gmail.com | January 18, 2009 3:12 AM | Report abuse

I've hated that new icon since I first saw it days ago. I can't see the "g".

Typical big business: if something's okay, screw it up just to f*ck with it.

-- faye kane, homeless brain
See more of my smartmouth opinions at http://blog.myspace.com/fayekane

Posted by: FayeKane_HomelessSmartypants | January 18, 2009 3:56 AM | Report abuse

Slow news day, huh?

Posted by: foobar2 | January 18, 2009 5:06 AM | Report abuse

Hate it too.

Posted by: Dawny_Chambers | January 18, 2009 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Will you people just shut up!!

Google doesn't give a d**n what you think! This is a 'corporate' decision and 'corporate' could care less what you want! "If you want to use Google (or Microsoft) then you will take what we give you and LIKE it!! So shut your traps!!"

Don't you just love it!! (I don't like it but I would NEVER say it because the big G could be watching and have me whacked just for say such a thing.)

Posted by: joeblotnik49 | January 18, 2009 7:59 AM | Report abuse

I like it ok. The g is supposed to be drowned out, then emerge as you notice it. I'm sure there will be other versions of the g. If it ain't broke, break it, and try other things. That's how progress is made.

Posted by: geneven | January 18, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

did notice it when it appeared - and not as a favorable change. Doesn't work for me visually or cognitively. But someone in Google marketing is undoubtedly chanting - any press is good press.

Posted by: link390 | January 18, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

A couple of weeks ago, the media made a small change that's been bugging me a little ever since. It changed from providing worthwhile news to complaining about favicons. I want the old media back.

Posted by: BIGELLOW | January 18, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

It's the stupidest looking thing I've ever seen. I really hope they replace it soon. I literally use google less because I do not enjoy looking at that horrid thing.

Posted by: mbmclaughlin | January 18, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I see a parrot in that logo. The red is the beak and the white space the outline of the body. The field of colors reminds me of a toucan.

I'm not a fan of the new favicon. Google's blog shows a bit more of the story as well as the original logo. It looks much better though I imagine the bandwidth to show it is more than the one that Google actually chose to use.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_7ZYqYi4xigk/SWfAtLjid1I/AAAAAAAACOU/4-mq3SGshy0/s320/Favicon_Andre.png

Anyone who's annoyed enough to want to change it back check out their post on this page:

http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2008/05/new-google-favicon.html

This page also shows all sorts of other logos. I'm a fan of the multi-color variant of their old capital G.

Posted by: DavidDawson | January 18, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

I agree, the new google favicon stinks. But having this pointed out on a blog with the Post's schlockiest of favicons staring out at me seems a little funny.

Posted by: drbunk03 | January 18, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm relieved that I'm not the only one who dislikes the current and previous favicon. I liked the uppercase G.

Posted by: aqbailey | January 19, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

It's good to know I'm not alone in disliking this new logo. It's sufficiently ugly that I've removed Google from my linkbar.

Posted by: dactyl | January 19, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Why did they change it without notifying anybody it was changing and what it was changing to?
I wasted time trying to determine if a computer had any of its files corrupted. The new favicon looked too ambiguous and it only appeared on one machine.
Thanx Google, for costing me time and money for your "free" services.

Posted by: lathes40127 | January 19, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Agree completely. I've been bugged all year by the increasingly busy noodling around that Google are doing. I always appreciated their elegant simplicity, and that seems to be falling by the wayside. I protest.

Posted by: fairhall | January 20, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Well-said. I've always associated Google with simplistic design and these constant changes are rather irritating. I liked the original icon; I was used to it and it also matched Google's logo.
When they changed to the lowercase g, that was still okay because it still ran with Google's style but this new icon is ugly, loud and brash! It also looks nothing like Google's style so I keep looking past it when I try to look for my Google tabs in my browser.
Stop screwing with my brand recognition!

Posted by: karensaid | January 21, 2009 6:03 AM | Report abuse

My FAVORITE Google favicon is pictured here in the lower right hand part of the screen with the share and problem tabs. I don't even think it was considered. http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=working+at+google&emb=1&aq=-1&oq=working+at+googl#

Posted by: jackdaniels08 | January 21, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

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