You might have noticed from being on the internet today that Google has changed its logo from Catull to sans serif. Some in the design world are calling it the biggest update to the logo in 16 years.

The change reflects what The Verge describes as a gradual flattening of the logo over time. Remember the shadows behind the old typeface at one point, or the three-dimensional look of the letters? The new typeface is flat, bold, and simple. The company is also replacing its lowercase blue "g" icon with an uppercase "G" featuring the four colors of the logo.

The idea is apparently that this look will work better on a wider variety of screens, according to a Google blog post explaining the change. 

"So why are we doing this now? Once upon a time, Google was one destination that you reached from one device: a desktop PC. These days, people interact with Google products across many different platforms, apps and devices—sometimes all in a single day," reads the post. 

Consumers have been known to freak out when venerable brands change their logos, but this overhaul shouldn't cause that kind of panic, nor will it be a game-changer for Google, says Henry Lieberman, a visiting scientist at the MIT Media Laboratory whose research centers in part on user interfaces. 

"The choice of fonts in corporate communications is important because it affects readability of the material," Lieberman writes in an email. "That said, their use as a 'branding vehicle' is way overblown. You don't have a new company because you have a new font."

(In Google's case, though, you have a new font presumably in part because you've rebranded as a new company.) 

One thing a new font can do is make viewers associate the brand with another company, according to design agency RWL Design's blog. An Advertising Age survey implies that some might think Google's new look bears a striking similarity to the Fisher Price trademark.

Lieberman approves of the new font but isn't overly impressed from a design perspective. His reaction, however, aligns with Google's stated goal of using a font that works as well on mobile as on a desktop computer. 

"It's nice, but it doesn't constitute an innovative design or substantial improvement. In general, sans serif fonts are better for things like logos and road signs meant to be recognizable from a distance, on everything from being stamped on pens to stadium billboards," he says.

The new logo isn't a forever thing anyway, according to Google.

"This isn't the first time we've changed our look and it probably won't be the last, but we think today's update is a great reflection of all the ways Google works for you across Search, Maps, Gmail, Chrome and many others," the company says.

Published on: Sep 1, 2015