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Google's Fancy-Pants Logos Need to Stop

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It used to be a minor thrill. One of those little niceties that adds a dash of color to an otherwise generic Tuesday or Thursday.

Flash back to the year 2000. The world was fresh with possibilities. Back then, it was theoretically possible to travel to Kabul without having your inner thigh patted down at JFK and your head decapitated in Tora Bora. Back then, we called Facebook “Friendster" (and even that’s not entirely accurate because Friendster was still two years away). We knew little about MP3s, M4Vs, PS3s, and many of us were still mourning the loss of search engines of yore; the AltaVistas and Infoseeks that had been replaced by a new service that sounded odd, but vaguely playful in a baby-talk kind of way.

These were simpler times, even for the Internet. And when we first started using Google, from time to time, the company would surprise us by embellishing its logo with something relevant. A little twist that went a long way. It was as if for one day out of the year McDonald’s had turned its Golden Arch into something different -- maybe an homage to Picasso or something of that nature.

But here we are; 10 years later and the world has changed. Yet Google has a new logo. Every. Single. Day. Or so it feels.

And it needs to stop.

Today’s, unsurprisingly, is about Thanksgiving. Okay, I’ll forgive that. But let’s just take a look at the increased use of these logos.

In 2000, Google had four -- count 'em, four -- special logos: One each for St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Groundhog Day, and the New Year. Simple, simple, simple, simple.

In 2001, Google started to up its international appeal, creating logos for Chinese New Year and the Indian Holi Festival. The total number of new logos? Five.

In 2002, that number jumped to 15, most of the additions being Olympic-related.

In 2003, post Olympics, we went back to seven -- a respectable number.

In 2004, 10 logos, including one celebrating leap year.

In 2005, we saw nine.

In 2006, everything went to hell again thanks to the Olympics: a total of 22 logos that year.

In 2007, we dropped down to 11 again, the same 50% drop that followed the last Olympic games. But Google started to get fancy, including holidays like Poland’s Fat Thursday.

In 2008, everything changed: Nineteen logos were introduced, a number usually only seen during Olympic years. To blame were celebrations of days like the first day of Spring, Bartok’s birthday, and celebrating 25 years of TCP/IP.

In 2009, we saw 37 logos. The most ever. All kinds of days I never knew existed suddenly became front and center: Men’s Day in Russia, for example. Israeli Election Day. The day Slovokia entered the eurozone.

Which brings us to 2010. So far, there have been 38 logos (including today’s).

So what are we celebrating this year? Well, for starters, the discovery of the X-Ray, 2500 years since the first Marathon, Austrian’s Day of Declaring Neutrality, and Oscar Wilde’s birthday (in select countries, probably not Vatican City).

Don’t get me wrong: These logos are often eye-catching and informative. But they’re no longer exciting! They no longer stick a sequin onto an otherwise drab piece of fabric! They’re just there, again, as always.

At our current rate of expansion, it will only be a few years before every day has its own Google logo, and the next thing you know, none of these days will mean anything at all. Men’s Day in Russia will be no more exciting than Peruvian Independence Day. Groundhog Day will feel just like the movie -- day in, day out, nothing changing.

So as we enter 2011, I beg the minds at Google -- reverse course. It’s not too late.
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