Google has introduced an interesting yet subtle new feature in their system in order to recognize the tragedies that strike nations in which they do business. It first appeared recently in the unspeakable tragedy that occurred over Russia. A plane crashed and a good number of important figures from the Polish government lost their lives while traveling to a memorial for the Katyn forest massacre, an incident in which over 20,000 Polish were killed by Soviets.
In order to recognize the tragic nature of the event and join the country in their mourning, Google displayed a white logo on their search engine site in the country. A colorless, ghostly version of their brand, the white logo is in stark contrast to the colorful Google trademark as we know it.
This was the first time the feature was introduced, but it has already been used once again on Google Hong Kong. This time, the show of respect and mourning was put into action to recognize the deep losses of the Chinese to the massive earthquake in Quinghai, an unexpected event that has once again ravaged a region prone to earthquake tragedy.
While some may raise their eyebrows to the fact that Google was showing it on Google Hong Kong, it makes perfect sense for those who know about the problems Google recently had with China, which resulted in them moving to Hong Kong and serving Chinese customers from a location where the communist nation’s privacy restrictions would (hopefully) not affect them.
Back to the issue at hand, Google says that this is an effort to show they are thinking about the people who face tragedy and recognize their suffering. It will be shown when a nation declares a state of mourning. But what sort of raises my eyebrows is the fact that Google never mentioned anything to the public about this decision when they made it and why they didn’t include some kind of note about what the ghostly version of their trademark represents.
Especially with the case of Google Hong Kong, it would have been helpful to include a reference and explanation that it was really about China and possibly some kind of direction to a site where people could learn more and donate money to help those suffering.
I try not to be too cynical, especially about Google which seems to get a lot of bad rap that may sometimes be undeserved, but it almost seems like the introduction of the Google logo in this manner without a peep from the company could be about publicity. Their intentions might have been good to begin with, but it’s not a stretch to think someone may have realized throwing up the mysterious logo without a word would create a stir.
With all the heat they are getting, they could certainly use some bolstering of their image as a compassionate organization. Hopefully just a cynical thought, but it is a thought.