In a world where the mantra of most strong brands is dogged consistency, a great example of a brand showing that it is adaptable and experiential is Google. It takes liberties to bend and flex its website logo to correspond to a major event happening on that date―such as celebrating a historical figure’s birthday or highlighting a major event that happened in history. Even the thinking behind the name given to this collection of elements―the Doodle―is grounded deeply in a way that communicates Google’s brand personality.
Google’s homepage is still considered sacred though. As the company has added new products and services, it has resisted the urge to clutter the most viewed search engine page in the world. Instead, Google has striven to appeal to a broader set of needs and maintain the clean integrity of its homepage. Doodles represent an ingenious way to enhance a functional offering through the addition of personality by inviting engagement without compromising the needs of the user who wants to perform a quick search.
Google’s first Doodles began as simple iterations of its logo and they occurred rather infrequently. The very first one appeared in 1998 as an “out of office” message (and a bit of a joke) as the company’s founders had gone to the Burning Man festival. The next one didn’t show up until 2000 and it was in honor of Bastille Day. Over time, Doodles began to appear with greater frequency and began to take on experiential elements such as incorporating games, like PAC-MAN and Rubik’s Cube, and videos and music. Google has even experimented with crowd sourcing―in March 2014 an eight-year old won the “Doodle for Google” competition.
For the FIFA World Cup, Google looks as if it is taking the Doodle to new heights in order to tap into the passion of a global audience. By changing its home screen up to three times in one day and dividing its letters into the colors of each competing team in action, Google is embracing the hype and hoopla surrounding the world’s biggest sporting event. During the month-long tournament, clicking on the Doodle will bring up the teams, score, and a real-time play-by-play for the game occurring at that moment, including links to videos from key media partners.
For all the fun and entertainment that Google Doodles bring, there is often a deeper and more pragmatic element to each choice. Doodles educate us on the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in Physics, spotlight an artist who made a lasting impact, or showcase a landmark event in history. In this way, the Doodle furthers Google’s eight brand pillars of innovation, including a mission that matters and sparking imagination.
What started as an artistic way to recognize holidays, anniversaries, or current events, Doodles have now become so popular that there are rankings dedicated to the best ones and even a Doodle store.
Gabriel Cohen is Monigle’s CMO. He is particularly fond of any Google Doodle that showcases Brazil in the World Cup.