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Turns out those Google logo colours mean more than you think

Google logo
(Image credit: Google)

It's one of the most recognisable logos around, and perhaps, at first glance, one of the most rudimentary. Ask anyone to describe the Google logo and they'll probably tell you it's the word Google in different colours. They'd be right – but it turns out there's a little more going on with those hues.

The Google logo is made up of primary colours – except, of course, for that green 'L'. And according to the company, that was a very deliberate decision. (Looking for more design inspiration?  Check out the best logos of all time.)

1998 Google logo

The iconic colour scheme first appeared in 1998 (Image credit: Google)

The first version of the Google logo was created on free graphic design software GIMP in 1997, and it looks very, er, 1997. It wasn't until the next year that the iconic blue-red-yellow-blue-green-red colour scheme emerged, and the logo hasn't changed a great deal since then. Sure, like most logos over the last few years, it's become flatter and undergone a few typographical tweaks, but the design has remained remarkably similar for 24 years.

History of the Google logo

The evolution of the Google logo (Image credit: Google/Haneke Design)

So if the rest of the colours are primary, why the green 'L'? "There were a lot of different colour iterations," graphic designer Ruth Kedar told Wired (opens in new tab) in 2000. "We ended up with the primary colours, but instead of having the pattern go in order, we put a secondary colour on the L, which brought back the idea that Google doesn’t follow the rules."

While we're not sure many casual viewers will see that non-primary-coloured 'L' and instantly think, 'what a rebel' – but it's always a delight to find out the secrets behind some of our favourite logos. From Walmart to Starbucks, we learn new things about some of the most recognisable designs almost every week. 

But speaking of not following the rules, perhaps Google would do well to remember the number one rule of logo design – that your design shouldn't easily be mistaken for another. Judging by the response to the confusingly similar new Google Workspace logos, the company hasn't exactly designed them to easily tell apart. Inspired to create your own design? Take a look at our guide on how to download Photoshop.

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Daniel Piper
Senior News Editor

Daniel Piper is Creative Bloq’s Senior News Editor. As the brand’s Apple authority, he covers all things Mac, iPhone, iPad and the rest. He also reports on the worlds of design, branding and tech. Daniel joined Future in 2020 (an eventful year, to say the least) after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more. Outside of Future, Daniel is a global poetry slam champion and has performed at festivals including Latitude, Bestival and more. He is the author of Arbitrary and Unnecessary: The Selected Works of Daniel Piper (Selected by Daniel Piper).