Google’s Doodles have become an art form in their own right, but what’s behind the doodles and how do the designers come up with the ideas?

Since its inception in 1998, Google’s logo has undergone a number of redesigns. The primary-colored, multi-hued logo on the top of its homepage has morphed into a guitar, a Wallace and Gromit illustration, and even a working game of Pac-Man. The highly-visible space acts as an effective canvas for the brand’s voice to showcase its playful, artistic side.

Keeping It Topical

The topics vary. Sometimes, it serves as a subtle microphone for the company’s political views. For example, during the 2014 Sochi Olympics, it showed support for the LGBT community. At other times, it’s notable for its idiosyncrasy. According to a recent Time article, in June 2012 Google featured the invention of the drive-in, rather than D-Day and during Easter 2013, it chose to recognize Cesar Chavez, not Jesus Christ.

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[tweetability]But its strength lies in its divergence. Google is known for its engineering. [/tweetability]Above all, it’s a technology company with an army of computer scientists and a crew of brainiacs. But the doodle adds a splash of color into the monotony of everyday searches. Its team of designers and illustrators escapes from the otherwise minimalist homepage, helping Google do what it does best – stand out.

The Start Of All Things Doodle

According to the company, the idea for doodles began back in 1998, when the founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, placed a small but exuberant stick figure behind the second “o.” To those in the know, this indicated that they were “Out of the Office,” in the middle of Nevada’s dusty desert, enjoying the Burning Man festival. With that, the first doodle was born.

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The duo played around with the design occasionally. They added in a turkey for Thanksgiving, 1998, and pumpkins for Halloween the next year. In 2000, Page and Brin asked webmaster David Hwang to design one for Bastille Day. He was subsequently appointed chief doodler and Doodles became a regular feature of the website. Though they once honored recognizable holidays, they have grown to celebrate everything from the notable birthdays to civil rights.

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A Team Effort

The team has since expanded to a team of 10 artists and engineers. According to Google, the designs are a group effort, “meant to enliven the Google homepage and bring smiles to the faces of Google user.”

While they do accept proposals from the public, a group of Googlers also regularly brainstorms which events to honor, getting inspiration from various sources including employees and users. Their goal: to memorialize significant events and anniversaries that will showcase “Google’s personality and love for innovation.”

The team’s creative lead, Ryan Germick, told the BBC that [tweetability]rather than recognizing well-known events, Google caters to the element of surprise[/tweetability]. They choose to celebrate memories and personal narratives their users can connect with. Take the doodle from July 14, 2012, commemorating Gustav Klimt’s 150th birthday. Doodler Jennifer Hom wrote that his “fluid forms and intriguing figures” attracted them. “I hope that our humble doodle does his brilliant legacy some justice,” she told the BBC.

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