Twitter gets its wings clipped

07.06.12

Twitter has a new logo – and a series of strict new guidelines…

Twitter have unveiled their new logo – a minor rework (and redirection) of the version they’ve been employing on the site for a while now, along with the introduction of strict guidelines for its use.

 

Reading through the guidelines, they can seem a bit petty (“Make sure that if mentioning “Tweet,” you include a direct reference to Twitter, for instance, “Tweet with Twitter”), but it’s easy to understand why they’ve been introduced, particularly from a visual identity perspective.

Twitter has, for a long time, had a pretty fragmented visual identity. Most strong brands will have a set of rigid brand guidelines, written like a dry legal contract (but with more pictures) – see Apple’s for example.

Thou shalt not change the colour of thy logo

The funny thing is, these sort of guidelines seem to fit for Apple – Steve Jobs was a notorious control freak, and Apple’s rigid control of its equities, hardware and software is – in many ways – responsible for what it is today (but that’s a different blog post).

Twitter, on the other hand, stands for something a bit different. While Twitter was launched as a means of sending messages to multiple friends simultaneously, it’s now grown into a symbol for freedom of speech on account of the role it has played in social movements like the Egyptian revolution. That, somehow, seems at odds with the idea of logo executions being dictated from on high at Twitter HQ.

Twitter has played a significant role in social movements like the Egyptian revolution

Ultimately, though, Twitter is a business – and it has to do what it must to protect its assets. And for a company which is essentially made up of a lot of computer servers and a bunch of talented staff, the brand is arguably its biggest.

So while there’s a need to assert some control over how your brand is portrayed, perhaps where things start to go wrong is when brands are so rigid about it that they come across as humourless stick-in-the-muds. Case in point –  Adobe’s attempt to stop people using the verb “photoshopped”.

Shouldn’t Adobe be celebrating the fact that their brand has become so synonymous with their field that it’s become the “Hoover” of image enhancement? It seems like a missed opportunity.

If the name “tweet” was a creation of Twitter’s users, would Twitter have crushed it underfoot?