Tech Giant Rebrands during the year of Lockdown: our thoughts on Google

The year 2020 hit many businesses hard. While many weren’t able to pick themselves off the ground and others froze in an attempt to weather the storm, some decided not to shy away from the challenge and rethink their brands to accommodate this new reality.

The Tech vertical, for obvious reasons, suffered significantly less than others did during this economic shift. Some brands even benefitted from the lockdown, allowing them to be more action-driven with their budget spends. Over the next month, we’ll be looking at five major tech companies that rebranded during the tumultuous year and learn from their wins and failures.

Last week we dove into Medium’s recent rebrand, relaying our thoughts on their strategy and new logo. Medium rebranded to manifest a more relational and expressive platform to engage their creators and users better. A timely adjustment during the lockdown craze. This week, we’re looking at Google, who also made significant changes this year to their G- Suite and Maps apps.

Google Workspace

Google reworked their G Suite into Google Workspace and rolled out its new identity in late September. However, Google Workspace is not merely a makeover for their productivity apps, but a bigger shift, both in function and appearance. According to their team, Google Workspace was planned before the coronavirus crisis, but the pandemic created a sense of urgency.

The Google Workspace identity serves as an umbrella to gather all of its apps under the same sub-branding while simplifying each app’s symbol and incorporating their staple Google 4-color palette.

Though clearly a move in the right direction — as cohesion is essential in a brand — it is still questionable whether applying such a vibrant color palette to a variety of small icons that, on several occasions, will appear next to one another, is the best way to ensure brand cohesion without missing out on the user experience. According to user complaints, Google Workspace’s logos are now too similar and some, almost indistinguishable. As depicted in this widely popular meme circulating the marketing and design networks on LinkedIn:

Google Maps

In addition to Workspace, Google Maps celebrated its 15th anniversary by also rebranding. GMaps’ pin finally accumulated enough fame by itself to stand alone as a recognizable mark (much like Nike’s “swoosh” symbol). This is quite huge and marks a new branding era for Google Maps. It also allows for a much cleaner, sleek, and memorable logo than its predecessor that fits a road, Google logomark, and location pin all in one small square.

Final wunderthoughts:


Converting veteran app icons into potent, stand-alone symbols and aligning multiple products under a unified brand.


Failing to differentiate enough between product icons while creating a unified brand line, making the user experience confusing.


How do vision and mission statements impact a company's long-term direction?

Effective vision and mission statements should ideally constitute important tools in formulating a company’s strategy. They should largely remain unchanged through the years, though a significant pivot may bring about new vision and mission statements. Together, they work to define the focus of the business and how it impacts the world. 

The vision statement is a representation of your company’s view of a better world. The mission statement reflects how it sets about to achieve this vision. They work together to create internal alignment and help with strategic decision making. When planning for the future, developing new products, or experimenting with new strategies, teams can perform a quick check against the vision and mission statements to ensure that these initiatives are aligned with the essence of the brand. 

In short, the vision and mission statements are powerful tools which can and should impact decisions across the organizations, making them important factors in a company’s long-term direction.

How does brand strategy influence the overall success of a business?

Your brand strategy reflects how your brand sees the world and its role within it. It is the framework that, ideally, should guide all your communications (both external and internal) and audience touchpoints, i.e. each interaction an audience member has with your business. 

Having standardized communication across all channels and touchpoints makes business processes smoother and positively influences your client relationships, ensuring you develop strong, long-term connections with your customers. It also simplifies strategic decision-making and aligns your team. All these factors are vital to the success of a business.

How do messaging frameworks help communicate your brand message effectively?

Messaging frameworks are structured guides that outline the core messages, value propositions, and differentiators of a brand. They ensure consistency across all communications, from marketing materials and social media posts to customer service interactions. By defining key messages that resonate with the brand's target audiences, messaging frameworks help ensure that a brand’s communications are clear and memorable. 

They also help organizations stay aligned internally and ensure that each member, regardless of their role, understands what the brand’s key message is and how to communicate it effectively. This internal alignment is crucial for presenting a unified brand image to the outside world.

What specific elements contribute to a brand's verbal identity?

A brand’s verbal identity should align your team on how your brand communicates and how this communication changes depending on the situation. It defines a specific and recognizable language through which your brand can deliver its message to your audience or audiences.

Typically, a verbal identity includes some, or all, of the following elements:

Brand personality: This captures the human traits or characteristics that your brand embodies, such as being adventurous, sophisticated, or reliable, which help shape how your brand is perceived.

Brand voice: The brand voice reflects how your brand reflects its personality across all communication channels.

Brand tone: While the brand voice remains consistent, the brand tone can change depending on the context of the message and the audience being addressed, ranging from formal and professional to informal and friendly.

Messaging frameworks: These are strategic tools that outline the key messages your brand intends to communicate to its different target audiences, ensuring that all messaging is aligned with your brand's mission, vision, and value propositions.

Messaging examples: These provide specific examples of how your brand's messaging might be applied in various scenarios.

Style and grammar guidelines: These outline your preferred spelling, grammar, and style, ensuring that your communication is consistent across the board. 

What are some key considerations when developing a tone of voice for a brand?

The first and most important consideration is the brand’s personality. While businesses are functional, they still communicate with people – and people primarily connect with stories and personas. Your brand’s personality will define a set of human characteristics which reflect how it sees itself in the world. By giving your brand these human attributes, you are making it both distinctive and easier to identify with. The tone of voice should reflect your brand’s personality.

It’s also important to consider your target market and your audience’s expectations. While having a distinctive tone of voice is important for memorability, there is such a thing as being too different. If all brands in your segment adopt a serious, professional tone, and you would like to be fun and playful, there is certainly space for that, but consider very carefully why you are doing it.


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