“Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.”
– Ernest Holmes
Google’s new logo and their typeface “Product Sans” had the internet buzzing last week. Well, that might be putting it mildly. The potpourri of profanities slung around was staggering.
I took a moment before reading other people’s views to see how I truly felt about it. Here are the concrete thoughts in case you’re curious:
- The logo did not appeal to me. With the serifs gone it isn’t as legible. Mainly due to them keeping the same colors. If they’d darkened the colors a bit they’d look a lot better against the white background.
- The typeface looked solid, I think it’s a good addition to the typeface landscape. I however miss the tilted lower case “e” that looks like it’s leaning back and laughing. Reminds me of Heineken.
Uncanny! Beacuse… You know… Beer… Can? You’ll laugh later.
After analyzing it myself I started talking to various designers and artists I knew, I also got to chat with Stefan G. Bucher about it who was very generous with his time on the subject.
What surprised me was that in general most of the people I talked with were positive about the change. Only a few went on a tirade about how “butt-ugly” or “infantile” it looked.
I suddenly felt really judgemental.
Here were people who actually put their names, art and designs into the world while I’m just sitting on my ass saying: “Well, that could’ve been better. Oh, why didn’t they…?”
A while back I saw a video from Prager University that pissed me off. At first I thought it was because of all the douchebaggery spewed out in it.
But after my chat with Stefan I realized: “Dafuq? No wonder, I’m kinda like the guy in the video myself from time to time.”
While I can understand that there might be some value of taking courses like this I feel it’s more or less there to propagate the justification of having “gatekeepers”.
I get it. I really do.
Take Apple for example who’ve been adamant about maintaining closed systems to ensure noone goes around poking in stuff they shouldn’t, or that things that don’t align with the company’s values slip through. There’s definitely some value being brought to the table there.
However, deciding that only certain types of art that fit into a particular mold get exposed to people I find deeply infuriating.
Because I’ve had to deal with that type of gatekeeping myself. It’s a scar that still hasn’t healed and I’m extra sensitive about it.
But looking at it objectively it might actually be a good thing.
See, now more than ever we have so many different avenues to pursue our creative expressions. Most of the gatekeepers are gone.
A person who wants to get into film might find their way there by creating shorts on Vine, Snapchat or Instagram. This might not necessarily translate into Hollywood success but it might be a step in the right direction.
But it goes both ways. Just because Scorsese puts something out on Instagram doesn’t mean that it’ll translate to that platform either.
Even though it might turn on the same audience, they’re two very different mediums and we need to understand how each works.
For example, this image expresses how I felt when I realized I was judging my inner douchebag far better than all of what I’ve written so far.
However, it might not give you the proper context. That is to say, the experience you’re getting by the image coupled with this text.
Something that would’ve served me well while analyzing the logo and typeface.
So, how can we understand Google a little bit better?
At their core they’re a search engine. They’re solving informational problems. We turn to them because we want specific and relevant information.
While some of us feel they might do well by also exposing us to results that are tangential, it’s not necessarily something they want to do.
Understanding this we can also understand that while they put a lot of time, effort and thought into the creation of the new logo and typeface perhaps design isn’t their strongest suit.
Also, constraints in the direction they wanted to take and the compromises made along the way are likely what lead them to the result. We can’t really fault the designers for that.
As a company Google aren’t solving problems of creative expression. This is probably the main reason behind the creation of “Alphabet”. If they want to step away from the “right answer” culture that seems to be inherent in the company then they shouldn’t put things that stray from those values under that umbrella.
Take what Toyota did with its brands Lexus and Scion. They cater to very distinct customers, Lexus to compete with the high-end luxury brands like Mercedes & BMW while Scion targets a younger demographic. Meanwhile Toyota maintains its own appeal with the average customer.
Now that we’ve ransacked ourselves as the audience, what can we gain from this as creatives?
We too need to recognize that this doesn’t insulate us from having to work hard at connecting with and understanding the people we are creating for.
I know that often I preach the values of taking a stand, holding our work up to people and asking “Can you relate to this?”, while focusing mainly on those who simply “get it”.
That’s only part of it.
It might stifle our development if we always take the critique on the chin and simply say “Well, that’s just your opinion. Good day, sir!”
We shouldn’t let ourselves off the hook so easily. The “I Am Rubber”-approach doesn’t always serve our best interests.
Neither should we keep hitting ourselves and feeling like failures simply because we failed to connect.
What we should do is to ask ourselves what we can do. And when we fall short of expectations, learn from it, brush it off and move on to the next project.
I think the following quote says it best:
“The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.”
So, ask yourself the following question:
“How can I find a better way of working with the spectator?”
Have a kick-ass ₢eative day!