Nick Westergaard

Nick Westergaard

This blog sits at the intersection of branding and social media. There’s nothing more in the crosshairs of this thesis than the branding of a social network. Last week Twitter unveiled a new logo. A new bird really. When discussing this with people, I’d point to the new logo on screen and was often met with baffled glances. 

Indeed this is a very subtle logo update. Basically, they scrapped the logotype and streamlined the bird itself, giving him a cleaner line and an uplifted focus. While this may seem like a little thing (a simple act of bird watching?) let’s take a look at what this new bird is all about and what you and your brand can learn.

A Teaching Moment

With the advent of the social web, logo rollouts have become major online events. These unveilings have become a time for the echo chamber to pick apart creative work, sometimes with merit and other times because it’s easier to destroy than create. As such, there’s often a teaching moment we can take away as brand builders.

The teaching moment here? It went off just fine. Sure there was a meme that rippled through peoples’ feeds on Wednesday but beyond that, no one really cared. One could argue that there isn’t really a teaching moment here at all. I disagree. In fact, there’s a lot to learn because Twitter did a lot right.

A Minor Variation — The most critical I can be is that the change is pretty minor. However, the masses are often rankled by big change. This facelift to the Twitter bird is relatively unnoticeable to those outside the industry who don’t stare at the bird every day like some of us do.

Timing — The timing was also right. As Edison Research’s recent data revealed only 10% of Americans use Twitter yet 89% know of the existence of tweets. If you consider Rogers’ Innovation Adoption curve, Twitter is probably on it’s way to hitting the majority in a big way. (Edison’s new Social Habit report reinforces Twitter’s increasing adoption as well.)

What impact do these numbers have on the brand? If you are considering a logo change, now is the time — while only 10% interact with the network regularly and before use explodes even further.

Just the Bird, Ma’am — Twitter is also making a bold statement on the type of brand it wants to be. Beyond streamlining the bird and giving him an upward, forward-thinking flight, they’ve also eliminated the (awful) bubble logotype and replaced it with — nothing at all. While most brands feel the need to spell it out for us (especially in the tech sector), Twitter is taking a cue from Nike, Apple, and Starbucks by dropping the logotype all together in favor of iconic status. As they said on their blog announcing the update: “Twitter is the bird, the bird is Twitter.”

Stories Matter — People like stories. Before the interwebs, stories were the original form of social media. Even today, brands with good stories endure. For example, take a look at Apple — the most-revered brand of our age. Most people know at least one Apple or Steve Jobs story. Stories matter with logos too. And Twitter had a good story around the update:

Our new bird grows out of love for ornithology, design within creative constraints, and simple geometry. This bird is crafted purely from three sets of overlapping circles — similar to how your networks, interests and ideas connect and intersect with peers and friends. Whether soaring high above the earth to take in a broad view, or flocking with other birds to achieve a common purpose, a bird in flight is the ultimate representation of freedom, hope and limitless possibility.

If you’re one of those lazy, visual-learning info snackers (I kid — I’m one of them) they also created a cool video literally showing the logo as the confluence of three sets of simple circles:

Not only is this a good story, it’s a story that’s consistent with their brand as well. Twitter has thrived on doing one thing — 140 character updates — very well. Laser-like simplicity. This logo continues the brand’s story of focus and simplification.

Trace this concept back to the most recent botched logo rollout, The Gap, and one could argue that the lack of story or purpose was a big part of why they failed. When people responded negatively (and there will always be some), The Gap couldn’t explain why they did what they did. Worse yet, they immediately backpedaled. Where as Starbucks, like Twitter, simplified with reason. They removed the word ‘Coffee’ from their mark as a signal that expansion beyond java was on the horizon.

Dust Off the Soapbox

We spend so much time online tearing new things down — especially branding. I don’t think there’s nearly enough energy spent patting brands on the back that get it right. Even if the new Twitter bird isn’t up your tree, you have to admit that they at least got the rollout right.

What You Need To Do

Some clerical items. If you use official Twitter buttons, the new logo has probably already been pushed out to you. If you create your own, you’ll want to grab the new logo. I’m a big believer in getting the most accurate form of a logo on your badges. Maybe it’s a little thing but I think it shows that you’re attuned to the channel and didn’t just slap something on to show that you’re social.

What About You?

What do you think of the new Twitter logo? More over, do stories really matter or are they just for the marketing echo chamber? I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.

  • BethThouin

    Hi Nick. Great post. YES! Story is everything. Consumers need to understand the concept creation to repsect and connect emotionally with the brand. Good on Twitter!

    •  @BethThouin Great point, Beth on the need of the consumer to understand the concept. I think this is glazed over by many marketers who are often so familiar internally with the concept that they forget the point of view of the audience. Thanks for reading and for commenting.

      • BethThouin

         @NickWestergaard Exactly 🙂 And companies underestimate customers. Customers are interested and they CAN get it. In fact, they enjoy it. Cheers Nick! 

  • NickWestergaard

    @ModernPostcard Thanks for tweeting!

    • ModernPostcard

      @NickWestergaard You got it. Great post!

  • RaulColon

    I honestly enjoyed the video! I think brands need to continue tweaking and re-inventing especially when their is a lot of space for grabbing more users, customers, or market share. 
    I have to say that I don’t use twitter as much as I use too but I am still a fan of the way we communicate via such a simple platform. 

    •  @RaulColon Agreed on brand tweaking. Very few marks are timeless enough to be left alone forever. I also think — as noted above — that the timing was right. As they reach mass adoption, now is the time for tweaking. And a time to make a bold move like dropping the word mark. The video is a nice touch too!
      As always, thanks for reading and commenting! (And for the nice tweets and G+ shares!)

  • NickWestergaard

    @rj_c Thanks for the tweet, Raul! What do you think of the new Twitter bird?

    • rj_c

      @nickwestergaard I always like when brands try new things. I really like it! 🙂

  • NickWestergaard

    @valetw Yes! How did I *not* make an @PortlandiaTV reference anywhere in that post?! #NickFail

    • valetw

      @NickWestergaard Or no “Twitter flips the bird” reference, for that matter? For shame!

  • I’m a fan of the new logo, but I’m also a fan of the fan-made alternations I’ve seen. (Like how by rotating and coloring the new bird you can turn it into Batman or a carrot on fire…)

    •  @AdamBritten Yes! The fan made stuff is hilarious. And – beyond being good for a laugh – I also think it says a lot when a brand is strong enough to be parodied. I think that’s different than Gap logo haters who were out for blood. I think when a brand’s logo is riffed on it’s on it’s way to crossing over and becoming part of our culture at large. As always, thanks for reading and commenting!

  • GoldsteinComm

    Visualizing your companies’ story in a logo, paired up with the right storytelling – like a video – is key to get a buzz going! @jaybaer

  • Darrenqle0aze
  • NickWestergaard

    Morning @jaybaer! Thanks for the tweet. Hope all is well in your neck of the Midwest.

    • jaybaer

      @NickWestergaard Can’t complain!

  • KarenBaglin

    @djwaldow @nickwestergaard @Twitter I love how it looks like it’s singing:)

    • NickWestergaard

      @KarenBaglin @djwaldow @twitter I didn’t even think of that. Good point!

      • KarenBaglin

        @NickWestergaard @djwaldow DJ’s right Nick, your blog is awesome … looks awesome too! (My blog really needs an overhaul:)

        • NickWestergaard

          @KarenBaglin @djwaldow Thank you both for the blog props!

  • vgs1211

    I think that making a minor yet noticeable change was perhaps the best step twitter could have. The story also had its own impact!

    •  @vgs1211 Totally. As noted, the story is really what makes this seemingly little tweak stand out in a big way. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • NickWestergaard

    @djwaldow You are too dang kind. Thanks for subscribing!

  • NickWestergaard

    @kaitlynsoares Thanks for the tweet! What do you think of the bird?

    • kaitlynsoares

      @NickWestergaard I’m all about it. A lot more aerodynamic, simplified w/o that tuft on his head + the upward angle is symbolically positive.

      • NickWestergaard

        @kaitlynsoares Great point on the positive trajectory.

  • NickWestergaard

    @houstonsocial Thanks for the tweet! What do you think of the Twitter bird?

    • houstonsocial

      @NickWestergaard I like it, but I don’t think I will be updating it my blogs any time soon 😉

  • NickWestergaard

    @Eyiwei Thanks for the tweet! What do you think of the bird?a

    • Eyiwei

      @NickWestergaard @eyiwei “Shaved” bird is simpler and neater; its about the right time to make some “unnecessary” branding changes

  • NickWestergaard

    @catherinedavid Thanks for the tweet! What do you think of the bird?

    • catherinedavid

      @nickwestergaard I appreciate the thought behind it; simple; circles; positive trajectory; connection & L-O-V-E the video.

      • NickWestergaard

        @catherinedavid It IS positive. I too love the circles concept.

  • NickWestergaard

    @TopBrokerOC Thanks for the tweet! What do you think of the new Twitter bird?

  • NickWestergaard

    @Brand_Agent Thanks for the tweet! Glad you liked the ‘teaching moment’

  • NickWestergaard

    @justachilds Thanks for the tweet and the compliment.

    • justachilds

      @NickWestergaard Anytime. I strongly agree in all points #branding #Twitter #logo

  • NickWestergaard

    @Hall_Web Thanks – glad you liked the post.

    • Hall_Web

      @NickWestergaard thought it was great. Thanks!

  • NickWestergaard

    @jessostroff Thanks for the tweet, Jess! Nice to meet you 😉

    • jessostroff

      @NickWestergaard You too, Nick! Been reading through your blog, I really dig it! Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you 🙂

  • actinicdesigner

    @nomenuk Many thanks for the RT on Wednesday, it’s much appreciated

  • actinicdesigner

    @efeher Thanks for the RT yesterday, it’s much appreciated

    • efeher

      @actinicdesigner You’re welcome!

  • actinicdesigner

    @designecho Thank you for the RT yesterday, we really appreciate it

  • actinicdesigner

    @k_vint_ylor Thanks for the Re-Tweet yesterday, it’s appreciated

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