Google Doodles are modifications or alternative presentations of the “Google” brand logo that they make and publish themselves, on certain specific dates. You’ve probably seen them on Google’s main homepage on www.google.com when trying to browse for something recently, since they’ve been a mainstay and a staple of the Google brand for several years now. These creative and sometimes interactive versions of the logo are used to celebrate holidays and historic dates, and also to remember iconic events or people that changed history in a great way. But did you know how it all started?
The origins of Google Doodles
It was the year of 1998, and the Google brand had not even been incorporated yet. This means that, even though the google.com domain was already registered and the website was running, Google was still in very early development, not even able to call themselves in “Beta” state yet. Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were planning to attend the Burning Man festival, in the Nevada desert. They drew a stick figure on their logo, using the second “o” for its head, as a way of showing their users that the website was in downtime because of their absence. It was only a special “out of office” message, but it was the start of what would become one of the most emblematic characteristics of the Google company, the largest brand in the world today.
After the success of the simple and innocent first Doodle, Larry and Sergey tried to treat them modifying the logo yet again on Thanksgiving 1998, adding a Turkey for the logo displayed on the homepage, and the tradition quickly gained traction and became repeated more and more often. In Halloween, on the following year, they changed the two “o’s” in Google for pumpkins, and this along with the few others that started to appear established the overarching team across all Google Doodles: They are fun, simple, and don’t always spell out Google’s name directly, but rather suggest it through clever design tricks and making use of Google’s growing popularity and brand recognition amongst the public.
In 2000, after a couple of years of playing around with their logo themselves, the two Google founders commissioned one of their own webmasters, Dennis Hwang, to design a Doodle for Bastille Day. He was later appointed “chief doodler”, and Doodles became more frequent and regular, and they started appearing on famous people’s birthdays to commemorate them. Some of the first Doodles for people honored the likes of:
This was at a time when the company’s now incredibly famous search engine was only starting to get popularity, and competing with several other websites that started towards the end of the 90’s, in what is now called the “internet boom” or “Dot com bubble” in investment and Wall Street circles. Google stood out of the rest for being simple and clear instead of saturated, and for monetizing modest and non-disrupting text advertisements instead of offering tons of dubious services, amongst other things. But the main factor that helped Google during its comeuppance was their charming and user-friendly image that they built, at least partly, thanks to the creativity of Google Doodles.