With more than 4,000 designs after two decades, the Doodles have become one of the most characteristic hallmarks of the Google search engine. However, it all started in 1998 as a “joke” by Larry Page and Sergey Brin to confirm their attendance at Burning Man, one of the most traditional festivals in the United States.
The founders of Google wanted to communicate to the world – and also to the rest of the employees – that for seven days they would not be in charge of the company, but would find themselves in Black Rock, Nevada, the artificial city that is home to Burning Man.
The festival, founded in 1986, brings together multiple forms of artistic expression. As their objective is to share, transactions based on money or brands are not accepted. At the end of the seven days, the assistants burn a wooden man – the burning man– about 12 meters high.
Page and Brin commissioned the design of a doodle -something like graffiti in Spanish- to an external agency, which placed the image of burning man behind the second “o” of the word Google. In this way, the logo formed the acronym “OoO”, which in English means “out of office” or “out of the office”.
“It was a bit of a joke. It has definitely evolved a lot since then ”, acknowledged Jessica Yu, leader of the Google Doodle team, in an interview with Time.
Doodles take on a life of their own
It took two years for Google to repeat the experiment. However, now the process was done internally. Designer Dennis Hwang was commissioned to modify the company’s logo to mark Bastille Day, July 14, 2020.
In marketing terms it seemed crazy, because it went against all the principles of reinforcing a brand. However, the work had an excellent reception. So much so that Hwang was named an official “doodler” and the designs began to appear more regularly on the search engine’s main page, reaching more than 4,000 thousand designs.
Although in its beginnings the doodles were oriented to commemorate popular festivities, today they represent multiple events and anniversaries. In addition, they have evolved in complexity. From the rough, static design of Burning Man, today’s works are real video games or short animated shorts.