A Fluid Google Favicon

Perhaps it is because we are all embarrassed for Google, but their most recent favicon has received very little comment.  If favicon is a word that it is new to you that is the very small 16 pixel by 16 pixel icon that appears at the front end of the address bar in your browser.

The BBC attempts this morning to provide a little more understanding about Google’s new mini icon.  It still leaves a little confusion, so let us try and bring a little clarity to the issue.

Since a favicon appears every time you use your browser and also in your list of favorites, despite its small size it is a very powerful visual clue to a website.  Changing such an icon can often upset your loyal visitors.  Just look at the Tech Digest reaction to a change in the Google icon back in May last year.

Google changes its favicon from uppercase white ‘G’ to lowercase purple ‘G’ – thoughts?  Soooo…has anyone noticed Google is wearing some new clothes today? That’s right, they’ve changed their favicon, that little ‘G’ logo which appears on tabs and at the beginning of the URL in the address bar.

I have to say, I don’t mind it, although it’s quite annoying when you’re scanning your 17-odd open tabs, and can’t find the one open with Gmail/Google News/Google Images etc, as you don’t recognise the new icon.

Google Logo

The latest choice of favicon for Google seems very paradoxical.  This is a company that has changed its logo but a little over the last 10 years.  Their present favicon seems most out of character.  The image below shows the favicon magnified by a factor of eight.  It is somewhat fuzzy but perhaps that is intentional.

According to the BBC article, it is all part of the new theory about brands that suggests they should be in constant evolution. 

Google favicon

Steve Plimsoll, of brand consultancy FutureBrand, says, "Logos are set to become fluid, ever-changing, customisable, even personalised entities and Google is the first global brand that understands this.  We are going to have to get used to the idea of our brands changing frequently, and when we do, every three months will seem like the dark ages."

I for one disagree profoundly. It rather sounds like the words of those tailors who designed the new clothes for the Emperor.  Even if it were true for brands, I do not believe it should apply to these incredibly tiny icons.  Getting good recognition of such a small feature requires repetition.  It therefore should be a constant for a reasonable period of time, probably measured in years.

Senior Money Memos favicon

The 16 pixel by 16 pixels favicon also requires some image that is very identifiable.  If it is too fuzzy then people may have difficulty in recognizing it.  As an example the favicon for the new blog, Senior Money Memos, is that shown on the right.  It is intended to symbolize a senior with a white beard.  It is readily identifiable.  That should be the mark of a good favicon.

Thankfully it would seem from the BBC item that the present Google favicon is very much a work in progress.

If you don’t like the new look, then, you can wait or, more proactively, send the company your own design. When it unveiled the small ‘g’ last year, the company’s head of search products & user experience, Marissa Mayer, hinted at a transitory solution, saying "by no means is the one you’re seeing our final favicon; it was a first step to a more unified set of icons."

We cannot wait to see Google’s final favicon.  Hopefully they go back to something as simple and direct as their original favicon.

13 thoughts on “A Fluid Google Favicon”

  1. To be very true, I thought something has gone wrong with my PC when i see that little favicon first but I am really amazed to know that it is an official change. Perhaps they should let all the world know before changing anything. Anyways I am going to be addicted as usual.

  2. I am with Ed, the first time I noticed Google favicon I was very thrown back, even now, when I have multiple tabs open I will catch it out of the corner of my eye and stop to remember what it is.

    It is very noticeable, stands out a lot which I am sure is what they were going for when they created it. I like it, and favicons can be a lot of fun to make as well as an important part of your brand recognition.

  3. I thought it was some kind of rainbow before. Just because of this blog I found it’s really a lowercase G.

    I tried several years ago to make myself a good favicon – even if it’s 16×16 it’s a hard job to design it properly. Or maybe the size is the major problem.

  4. When it came out the new favicon confused me when I was looking for the right tab to click on.

    For the first day I didn’t like it but it has grown on me. To be honest, I think this will be close to their final version. It’s bright, it stands out, it’s recognizable, what more could you want.

  5. While I consider favicons to be a great idea (finally something to set apart my bookmarks, and I have A LOT of them), I can’t say I like the one by google. There is nothing really wrong with it, it just looks …. so common. Like an old clip art or something. When I look at it the words “what the ?” come to mind, and I should be thinking “google”.
    I’m glad to know they are working on improving their favicon.

  6. Personally I like the favicon very much! I agree it doesn’t resemble google that much, but it has nice colors and will stand out among other favicons for sure.

  7. When i first notice the new favicon of google i was confused, i was like what happen they hack google?

    Personally, i dont like the new favicon it stills confusing me when i have few taps open in my browser. Also the G in the favicon you can’t see it.

    But the colors are bright, the same colors as chrome browser uses and they are very noticeable this is the only good part of the new favicon.

  8. “Perhaps it is because we are all embarrassed for Google”…ouch, the truth hurts. It’s not the most important thing they have to think about, but I’m really surprised they didn’t do a better job of this. It bugs me every time I see it. Of course, I still see it 100 times a day…

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