They’re so little, just 16 x 16 pixels. But favicons are big for branding, and when a huge company like Google changes out a key element like this, people tend to notice. While all of the search giant’s services have unique favicons, it has been three years since the search giant tweaked its umbrella icon.

What went live this week for some users is a blue icon with a white letter “g” in that all-too-familiar font. The last time the company changed out its favicon was in 2009, and at that time, some of the credit went to a design contest. But what drove this change? Well, one look is all it takes to draw comparisons between this and the version that went live just prior to the last changeover, in 2008.

The new favicon kind of looks like a reverse x-ray image of the 2008 version, no? Or maybe this merely reflects Google’s attention to “simpler and more beautiful” interfaces. So far, the company hasn’t really explained this change, so all we know for certain is that users accustomed to the familiar green and red icon in their brower tabs or bookmarks may need to make a slight visual adjustment.

(via MarketingLand)