News / Science & Technology

Google 'Doodles' Reflect Company's Culture of Innovation

Brian Padden
From a marketing standpoint Google, the enormously profitable Internet search engine, separated itself from the competition early on with its homepage, the iconic Google logo on a blank white screen. The stark design emphasizes the company’s view that it's a search engine, not a news or entertainment site. The homepage never changes, except for those Doodles, the artistic, sometimes funny, sometimes baffling renderings with the logo hidden within - that occasionally appear and have become famous.

Anyone who uses Google will occasionally notice a Doodle, a specially designed logo to commemorate holidays, like Chinese New Year, or obscure anniversaries, like the date the London subway system opened 150 years ago, or a quirky tribute like this Zamboni animation, depicting the machine used to resurface ice skating rinks.

These artistic renderings of the Google logo may bring more users to its homepage. But Ryan Germick, the chief Doodler, said their value to the company isn't found in a traditional business plan.

“Ahh, the existential question of 'why'? We are here to surprise and delight our users and to humanize Google,” he said.

Unlike the business side of Google that constantly analyses data and usage, the Doodles, he said, are evaluated on subjective criteria.

“We look at social networks. We look at press. You know, do we make each other laugh or smile with the thing we are doing? And try to have a more of an emotional connection rather than like this is converting more clicks than the last one,” said Germick.

Doodler Jennifer Hom said the team creates more than 300 Doodles each year in many different languages, but stays away from topics that are political or controversial.  

“We basically think of anything that is innovative, artistic and nerdy, something that is appropriate for Google,” said Hom.

She said Doodle ideas can come from just about anywhere. Many, like the suggestion for an interactive rendering of a "buckyball" - a form of carbon composed of 60 atoms that looks like a molecule - come from inside the company.  
“I never heard of what this was, but there were like 10 to 12 people in Google who are obsessed with buckyballs," said Hom.

Google's culture of innovation, the relaxed environment, the mix of work and play helps the creative process.

Doodle Engineer Khris Hom, no relation to Jennifer, animates artists' drawings. He said he first got involved with the team as part of a program to nurture innovation and growth.

“My involvement started out as a 20 percent project, which is a phenomenon at Google, where engineers get to spend one day a week or 20 percent of their time working on whatever they want. So I was building some little animation, and someone from the Doodle team saw them and said can you do that on the home page, and I’ve been having a blast here since,” he said.

These Google Doodlers say the irreverent humor of the artwork reflects that culture of innovation and the idea that Google should be a fun place to work or visit online.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs