By now, you're probably familiar with them. Chances are you've pulled up the Google search page, surprised and perhaps delighted to find the usual blue, red, yellow and green letters transformed to make the Google logo into a colorful cartoonish image to celebrate an important anniversary or holiday.
Google has been sharing its beloved Google doodles with millions of people around the world since 2000. The idea for doodles came in 1998 after Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin added a stick figure man to the search engine's logo. It was meant as a "comical message to Google users that the founders were 'out of office.' " And by out of office, they meant they were at the Burning Man festival.
Since then, Google has published thousands of doodles with help from the company's doodle team, which includes artists and engineers around the world, says Perla Campos, a Google doodle global marketing lead. Many doodles take more than a year of planning, with the team churning out about 400 a year.
Over the years, they've created doodles to celebrate a range of occasions — from children's first day of school to the 131st anniversary of the hole puncher. Some doodles are static; others are interactive or animated. As the Google logo alterations have evolved and grown more popular, the doodle team has recognized — and taken advantage of — the opportunity to use the illustrations to educate users.
Sometimes covering political or controversial topics, doodles can be "a catalyst for people to have critical conversations," Campos said.
A doodle earlier this year marked the 100th anniversary of the Silent Parade, during which almost 10,000 African-Americans marched in New York City to protest violence against African-Americans. After it appeared, a sixth-grade teacher contacted the tech giant to say thank you. The educator shared that the doodle created a space for conversation in the classroom around the sensitive topic, Campos said.