Launched in 2005 Google Maps has been providing, well, maps to the world and has evolved into one of the most robust and helpful online thingies ever. Since 2007 Google Maps has provided the option for Street View, a ground-level, real-life, 360-degree view of streets where you are aided by a little yellow man to find your orientation (geographically speaking, that is). That little yellow man has a name: Pegman. In May, Google introduced a new version of its map application going from “Classic maps” to “new Google maps” and took the opportunity to redesign Pegman with the help of B-Reel. (A few additional details and images can be found at Matt Delbridge’s Behance project page).
This redesign provided an opportunity to align Pegman more closely with current Google aesthetics. In considering Pegman’s role as an ambassador for the brand, it was important that he appeared strong as an icon, while, at the same time, not losing his personability or his most identifiable characteristics. For example, the telltale triangle on his chest has remained, but by adjusting his proportions, we hoped to improve his readability at small sizes within the product.
It goes without saying that this is far from our typical reviews but still a before-and-after is a before-and-after and this fits most of the talking points of any logo and identity. Both Pegmen have their merits and I don’t think one is necessarily better than the other. The old one was less human and more like a Monopoly token, which made for a nice metaphor of placing it on the board of, like, Earth. But it felt a little robotic and impersonal. The new one is more like someone you would want to have a beer with. It’s more human and relatable and obviously has an advantage in gaining popularity by its myriad costumes. Accessories aside though, the new Pegman does feel more usable and helpful within Google Maps with a much clearer sense of direction and volume. His head probably needs a bit of shading to help it become part of the body but other than that he seems like a great travel companion.