Historical Events  Brands

Motto was "Do no evil"

Motto was "Don't be evil"

What was Google's motto?

There were many other search engines around before Google, with a few notables being Yahoo, AltaVista and Lycos. Google wasn't really considered amongst them until 1998, but even from it's early days it strove to be different, and from the year 2000 it included a mission "motto". This was a cute phrase which encapsulated the whole company ethos, and the one it used was widely seen as a sly dig at Microsoft, because it those days that was the computing giant with a colorful history, whilst Google was the plucky new upstart.

The motto it used then was abandoned in 2018 following the Alphabet restructure, which it performed largely to mitigate against future anti-trust problems. There is confusion, however, over exactly what the original motto was, with many remembering 'Do no evil' and many also remembering "Don't be evil".

Code of conduct

Technically, the motto was part of Google's code of conduct. After the restructuring, Alphabet took the motto "Do the right thing", and in turn incorporated this into it's code of conduct. Company mottos have been around for about as long as companies themselves. Some are often attributed to them even though they never were official, for example Ford offering "any color as long as it's black". The goal is to encapsulate a set of beliefs, morals, ideals or ethics which the business strives to operate to. It's often used as part of a mission statement, which is a longer form without the snappy memorable phrase required by the motto. 

The story is the Google motto came about as "something which would be hard to take out" as well as being a "bit of a jab at our competitors".


There is speculation all was not well surrounding the removal of the motto. Google has strong ties with the US government, and it's work involving AI and autonomous weapons for the military was seen to directly contradict it. This even led to the resignation of many staff who felt strongly about it.

As well as these problems, the motto has been held up when considering Google's tax affairs. In 2013 Margaret Hodge, a British MP, accused Google of being "calculated and unethical" regarding the contrivances it went to in order to avoid billions of pounds in tax to the UK authorities. She explicitly told them "I think that you do evil".

It's clear the motto was increasingly causing problems, and this is most likely why they removed it altogether. But which one was it to start with?