A New Medium for Logos?


Logo design is a field that is constantly changing. There was a time when logos were limited to print media, but television changed that forever. Suddenly these corporate designs had to look good on a flickering screen as well as on the company stationery. Fast forward a few decades, and the internet became the new and most exciting place for a logo design to be displayed. Most people assumed that the web was the limit, along came smartphones, Kindles, and other handheld devices, each presenting new challenges and new opportunities.

Just when you thought there were no unexplored frontiers for logos and marketing, Dr. Edward Johnson of the Microbiology and Molecular Cell Biology department at Eastern Virginia Medical School and doctoral student Clayton Wright have discovered a new and interesting medium: bacteria. The pair have grown a Google logo in colorful bacteria and published a film about the process.

Science and marketing have been partners for some time, but rarely is the intersection between the two fields so clear. Dr. Johnson’s son produced a video about the growth of the Google bacteria, which the scientists hope will inspire young gifted students to become tomorrow’s scientific colleagues.

One of the main benefits of the Google logo is that it is simple and basic enough to be easily recognizable in just about any media and scale. Indeed, it is still easy to pick out the signature letters even on a petri dish. While most logos will never meet this platform, it brings up important questions for Google’s competitors and any type of business. How recognizable is your brand? Could consumers readily identify it and associate it with your business if they saw it in a very small piece of clip art, in black and white, or even when spelled out by bacteria?

These questions form some of the most daunting challenges for the modern logo designer. A logo still needs to look great on paper, but it must be versatile enough to seamlessly make the jump to animated media and the web. While bacteria will never become the preferred method of marketing—we hope—your brand should still be familiar when spelled out by colorful microorganisms.

Why the Google logo? Aren’t there hundreds of logo designs with a similarly distinctive shape? Here are a few of our thoughts on why the Google logo was chosen for this experiment. First, it has a recognizable color palette. Second, it is basic enough that just its general shape brings up mental images of the world’s favorite search engine. Last, there is a definite geeky ‘cool factor’ to Google’s brand, enough so that seeing the logo on agar simply makes sense.

If your logo design is not passing the screen test (much less the bacteria test), it is not too late. Talk to a professional logo designer about how you can have a design that is simple yet distinctive enough to build your business brand to wherever you want to take it.