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Caveat: I'm a software developer who's worked in agencies for half of my 20 year career. A few thoughts:

1. Branding is hard: everybody things they can do it. Creative direction and art direction are really, really hard. If you haven't seen the "Make my logo bigger cream" video, go watch it, and then have some grace with the Go team. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgcX0y1Nzhs

2. A brand is WAY more than a logo. I get that's the first thing you grab, but the logo is just the identify of the brand. If you think it's all creative mumbo jumbo, I encourage you to go read Aaker's "Building Strong Brands" https://www.amazon.com/Building-Strong-Brands-David-Aaker/dp...

Go read the Brand Guide twice before you start throwing darts. https://storage.googleapis.com/golang-assets/go-brand-book-v...

Having seen 100s of these over the years, this is excellent work from people who honestly care. It also addresses almost every single negative comment on this thread.

I also like how they call out explicitely "The gopher is not a logo" which is entirely true. I think it's more of a "lovemark" (see https://www.amazon.com/Lovemarks-Kevin-Roberts/dp/157687270X)

It's not my favorite logo, but it's definitely on brand.

If the go team is reading this: it might help if you lead with the mark and the mascot together. I think the logo in isolation is what's generating the strong reaction.

Apologies, but I disagree with basically everything you're saying here.

Branding isn't hard; forcing a constructed brand is hard. That's the real source of friction here.

A brand might be way more than a logo, but THIS brand is not. That logo is literally the only thing this design agency contributed at all. Even the colors were already in use around the project. If the difference between "a brand" and "a logo" is "ten pages of marketspeak" then I'm even less convinced that branding is hard.

I read the "brand guide." It's exactly what I expect from a professional design firm: meaningless noise, carefully typeset. The entirety of section 1 is a PR quickref chart, of no interest or use to anyone but project managers dealing with micromanaging executives. Section 2.0 is breathless pseudo-art crap and some trademark defense. 2.1 contains pointless backstory for fonts that are firmly in the "Google already had lying around" category. Finally, the cartoon gets its own section, expressly to head off the whining from the old guard.

I've also seen a ton of this crap over the years, and none of it has ever made the slightest bit of difference. This is exactly the kind of time-and-money-wasting that occurs when some facet of management has gone off the rails. Let's hope the derelict in question is somewhere in marketing, and unable to affect the quality of the actual technology in question.

As for the actual logo, I don't have an opinion about it. I don't think there's anything there to have an opinion about. I've never been a big fan of the gopher cartoon, but at least it had some character, which likely comes from the talent of a real artist.

> Branding isn't hard; forcing a constructed brand is hard. That's the real source of friction here.

Let's agree to disagree. I've been involved in dozens of branding processes. None of them were easy, from the strategy to the creative to the execution.

If the agency did their job, the brand guide _should_ feel obvious. That's how you know it's on brand.

<rant>I find this sort of comment very condescending to designers. I'n not a designer, but I've managed them. Good design is hard. Good creative is hard. Good branding is hard. This was excellent work, and if you see "marketspeak" you need to re-evaluate what good creative work looks like.</rant>

Marketspeak is marketspeak because it lacks honesty and authenticity.

It's like "artist's statements" that are written so impenetrably that it's impossible for anyone to understand what the artist actually meant to do with the artwork. And that's deliberate, because of where the art world has got now.

If the designers of this shitshow were honest in their statement then it'd be "we made it look like this because it was the easiest and simplest method of getting it past the mass of middle-managers who got to veto the creative without contributing any positive ideas themselves. The brief was to be as inoffensive and non-controversial as possible".

As another commenter said, Go is brutalist. The gopher never quite suited it. But at least it was fun and original and different. But this... this is shite.

> I read the "brand guide." It's exactly what I expect from a professional design firm: meaningless noise, carefully typeset.

It's not helping the discussion to disregard an entire profession. Re-read what you wrote; it is _extremely_ heavily biased, angry venting at some corporate construct you've invented.

> at least it had some character, which likely comes from the talent of a real artist.

This is just mean.

"You don't like it because you just don't know how goshdarn hard it all is" isn't a particularly useful starting point. Some of us do know how hard it can be, and some of us know when it's hard because the people doing the work don't have anything positive to contribute.

I am familiar with what I wrote: I wrote it. I'm not biased against anything; my opinions come from direct experience with dozens of design firms over many years. In-house design teams are, for example, a totally different and more positive approach. Every time you farm the job out you get junk, and this example is no exception. I'm baffled as to why this got farmed out at all -- is there no design team within Google qualified to typeset a two-letter logo based on an existing logo?

As for being "just mean," to whom am I being mean? The faceless entities who picked six colors and three corporate-approved fonts and then wrote a twenty-page document inventing reasons they did the obvious? Guilty as charged, I guess.

It's because branding is so dashed hard. And because it must capture the soul of the product. Its raison d'etre. That makes it so easy to miss the mark. It's only allotted 100ms of human response time to make a user fall in love.

And I do believe this rebrand is a miss. Nothing about it communicates Go's unique personality. Or deep tradition.

Compare to the incomparable Paula Scher's work at Pentagram. I'll single out the rebrand for MIT Media Lab. About as good as it gets. Mapping perfectly to the myriad bespoke research programs in everything from "affective computing" to "soft robots":


In any event, I love that this turned into such a lively discussion here. We should have more of these live critiques. The value of this kind of feedback is amazing ;)

My experience is pretty much the same as yours, and I largely agree with everything you've said.

One thing I'll add is that one of the reasons why branding is hard is because there is often a surprisingly large disconnect between how users perceive a brand/product, and how the creators perceive it.

My favourite approach to coming up with a brand structure is to go through archetypes with both the client and a subset of users. Archetypes are a great way to get the initial planning of brand perception down, but a lot of designers will do it purely with the client. Nearly every time I've had the fortune to work at an agency that does it for both sides, the perception of the brand has been very different.

I think the agency have done a good job, but I do wonder whether they took the time to see how users perceive the Go language. Based on the comments on here, my guess is that they didn't.


Thanks for taking the time to post all those informative links. Usually these kinds of discussions end up being people expressing what they like or dislike about the re-brand.

I'd suggest that a re-brand that didn't provoke a strong reaction was a waste of time.

I'm a rare breed of designer + developer with 20 years of experience and I've been involved in branding projects with marketing agencies too. I agree, branding is hard, pleasing humans is hard.

In the case of Go I think both the branding and the logo are a mistake, objectively speaking.

I get that in the briefing they conveyed to the designers the idea that Go is a fun programming language, but both the client and the designers completely ignored the target audience. Developers, specially Go developers, care about reliability, performance, convenience, stability, etc. None of these characteristics is expressed in the brand other than "fun" above anything else.

Subjectively speaking I have a strong reaction against the brand. I'd rather have the old ugly gopher than this which I can't identify or empathize with in any way.

> A brand is WAY more than a logo.

I thought it was super-interesting they used the word 'brand' instead of 'branding'.

As if a brand ("what people say about you when you're not listening") could be conjured from a logo and set of colours.

What is the 'Make my logo bigger cream' video satirising? Is it a common reaction from clients of design agencies to ask for the logo to be bigger?

It is (in my experience), although that's not the point.

They are satirising how clients tend to destroy good designs with bad feedback.

Maybe the clients know more than the designers about what their requirements are?

Sure, you would hope so.

The problem is all in communication:

1. Communicating the requirements with enough clarity to enable the designer to translate those requirements into creative.

2. Communicating constructive feedback to adjust the creative.

The most productive exchanges are when the client understands the creative process.

I see that "Brand Guide" as style over substance personified:

> Roboto is a contemporary sans serif typeface designed for readability.

That's an oxymoron: "sans serif typeface designed for readability".

Thin sans serif body text is how you show you hate your reader's eyes.

And they didn't even run a damn spell-checker over the thing:

> For additional background and guideance (sic)

(Points for using the correct word "typeface" in lieu of "font" tho. Are you watching Woz!?)

For screen reading, sans is often preferred. It's possible that this is somewhat outdated advice with the advent of High-DPI displays, but it certainly still holds true if you're targetting a diverse set of devices, including older screens.

And, since you went there first: "lieu".

D'oh! I mispelled "lieu" but corrected it within the edit window. Heh.

That's classic: I'm scolding the other fellow for not looking where he's going and I walk into a pole myself. Heh.

but... I'm a rando posting in anger. They're a brand company that just released a thing for Google with a typo in the "Brand Guide". (It's in the PDF, is it in the hardcopy? I'd be mortified if this was my project.)

I don't really have a response for your point about screen reading.

>That's classic: I'm scolding the other fellow for not looking where he's going and I walk into a pole myself. Heh.

Muphry's Law :)


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