Google +1 Is Having An Identity Crisis

In the last month, I’ve seen so many different version of the Google +1 button that my head’s starting to spin. In terms of cultivating loyalty to a product, I don’t think it’s a good idea to constantly change the branding and how it looks to users. Let’s have a review of all of the different versions. 

I’ll start with what I’ll call Version 0, as seen about a month ago on Google Finance:
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Then, let’s move on to what I’ll call Versions 1 and 2 – which most people would call their current main versions. One place to find these versions is on the official Google +1 page located here.

One is a rectangular button with the “g” in the design. The body is red and the interior is white. 
The other is a square button without the “g” in the design. The body is red and the interior is white.  

First point of confusion: why are their two designs (one with the “g” and one without the “g”) ?!?

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Now, let’s move to two places that currently have these two versions. First, we’ll start with Version 1 (with the “g”) that is currently being used in the Google Finance stock page: 

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Then we’ll move on to Google+ that is making use of the +1 button without the “g”:

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But wait! There’s a key difference between how these two buttons are used in practice (in Google Finance & Google+) versus how they were branded in theory (the main Google +1 page). The color schemes are swapped. On the +1 main page, the interior is white and the body is red, whereas in Google Finance and Google+, the interior is red and the body is light gray. Why the color swap?!?

Now, onto more confusion. Here is what the +1 button looked like in the YouTube share module up until yesterday: 

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OK – simple enough – this was just the same as Version 1 (color swap) called out above. But wait, here is what the YouTube +1 looks like today:

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So now we have a third version of this button which has the “g” and the “+” but no longer has the “1”. 

Like I said before, my head is spinning. It’s best to stick to one version and ensure user consistency across multiple flows.