Google Android Ditches Dessert-Themed Names and Debuts New Logo

See what Barbara Apple Sullivan had to say to Ad Age about the changes.

Google announced two large design changes to its Android brand Thursday. It’s doing away with dessert-themed names for its operating system and is also debuting a new logo that prominently displays Android’s iconic mascot for the first time.

Since 2009, Android has named its operating systems after snacks – some brand-name such as “KitKat” and “Oreo” – while others have carried more general delicacies such as “Marshmallow,” “Gingerbread,” “Nougat,” “Pie” and “Jelly Bean.”

Now the company will simply use numbers to identify what version of Android a person is using, starting with “Android 10.” The tradition of naming Android’s OS after tasty treats was “a fun part of the release each year externally,” Sameer Samat, VP of product management at Android, says in a blog. “But we’ve heard feedback over the years that the names weren’t always understood by everyone in the global community.”

Google says the changes will roll out in the coming weeks.

Tom Edwards, chief innovation officer at agency Epsilon, says that “although the dessert names and the subsequent tie-ins to different snack brands was charming, it was difficult for consumers to track changes from one version to the next.” He adds: “Moving to a number-based system gives visual cues on the current version while also building urgency to upgrade.”

Barbara Sullivan, founder of brand agency Sullivan, says aligning with specific brands such as “KitKat” or “Oreo” is a “risk because they are attaching themselves to brands whose reputations and perceptions are not under their control and who might not be consistent with Google’s brand reputation.”

“Using desserts in general is also a risk because of regional tastes and preferences,” Sullivan says, adding that “Google is better off relying on its own brand strength. This new brand ID is a good example for other tech companies to consider the human element in portraying their brand.”
Google Android first debuted in 2008 as an upstart rival to then-heavyweights Blackberry and Apple. The Android font and its robotic mascot were designed by Irina Blok, a well-known designer in Silicon Valley and Google employee. (Blok designed the iconic mascot in five minutes, according to a 2012 article from The Next Web.)

The company’s first logo featured a futuristic, almost military-like design with a green-colored stencil font (now known as “DroidFont”). In 2014, Android updated its logo for the first time going with a softer feel, using all green letters in a lowercase, modified version of steiner font.

The new logo does away with the green-colored font, but keeps the lowercase letters and now includes the Android mascot; the color of the letters was switched from green to black. The previous color was harder to read, especially for people with visual impairments, Google says.

“Companies use logos to signal change,” says Patrick Hanlon, author of PrimalBranding and CEO of Thinktopia, a branding consulting firm. “Sometimes, they are changes in philosophy, markets, mission, geography or merger. They also signal where we are at in time.”

To that end, Hanlon says the previous Android logotype was dated because it featured ideas of “early 2000s gamers, bots and people staring into an imaginary future. The new logo is in today’s lexicon and the change was probably overdue.”

This article was originally published by AdAge on August 22, 2019