Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were going to the Burning Man festival in Nevada in 1998. For fun, they decided to draw a stick figure behind the Google logo, just in case, as “chief Doodler” Dennis Hwang says, “the site crashed and someone wanted to know why nobody was answering the phone.”
That simple, fun idea was the spark behind the wildly popular Google Doodles.
Since then, that simple stick figure has morphed into some 1,000 creative efforts. These days, you’re as likely to see something interactive, like the one marking the 30th anniversary of Pac-Man in 2010, or the ice-clearing celebration of the 112th anniversary of the Zamboni. People like me look forward to seeing what creative Doodle will turn up next. We click and share and talk about them.
So why are companies so nervous about showing any personality? They hide behind stiff wording like utilize, implement, deploy and leverage. They avoid saying who did what with passive sentences. Their lawyers scour and sanitize.
Yet aren’t the companies with personality the ones that make you smile, the ones you remember, the ones you think of first when presented with a choice?
You may be thinking that it’s easy for a company like Google, but what can you do if you don’t have creative geniuses on staff? No excuse. Just look at the airline industry, with WestJet and their Christmas flash mob, and Air New Zealand with their Hobbit-inspired safety message. Sorry, Air Canada, maybe it’s all your labour troubles but I can’t see you pulling those off.
Do you love the Google Doodles too? You can suggest ideas for new Doodles by email to proposals AT google DOT com, and now you can buy Doodle mugs, t-shirts and other merchandise too.