You know you are doing something right when your logo is instantly recognisable the world over. When it comes to Twitter, the number one social media site – where you can wax lyrical at 140 characters a time, without its blue bird, it just wouldn’t feel the same. In 2012, the social network’s former Creative Director, Doug Bowman said, “Twitter is the bird, the bird is Twitter.” This was during an announcement of Twitter’s logo redesign, which refined the bird from it’s original goofy design to what we know and love today.

In this post, we take a look at the interesting style and history of the famous logo. Initially, Twitter was defined solely by its name, but over the years – as the world fell in love with the concepts of social media more and more, a proper logo was introduced. The little bird with the tufty hair.

Original twitter logo
Original Twitter logo
Twitter logo 2010
Updated Twitter logo introduced in 2010
Current twitter logo
Current Twitter logo introduced in 2012

Making a company a brand

As Tony Stark, writing in Logaster explains, it was back in 2010 that the team behind Twitter thought a redesign was on the cards, as the company had grown significantly since 2006, becoming more than just a place for business types to keep in touch with each other:

“They wanted something that perfectly symbolized the tweets that were the cornerstone of the business so they invented the twitter bird. The twitter bird summed up the objectives of the company perfectly. Not only did “tweets” sound like something a bird would do, but his quick and speedy look symbolised the quick and simple messages that the service offered.”

This simple, yet innovative addition to Twitter’s branding, had turned the company into a more sophisticated brand, one which was appealing to a broad range of people, from celebrities to heads of state. The brand was now creating a revolution all on its own, surpassing Facebook as the go-to social media site.

The bird in question, named Larry, was bought for around $15 from the site iStock back in 2006. It was designed by the British illustrator Simon Oxley, but was never a part of the Twitter logo, instead it appeared on the site as a sort of reference to twittering birds. The 2012 redesign took Oxley’s bird and streamlined it a lot more, removing its cartoonish elements – in favour of something more minimalist.

A logo fit for a world leader

After six years, the Twitter team came to the conclusion that having their name as part of the logo was no longer necessary; having grown exponentially, most of its users had come to reference Twitter simply by the bird design.

How simplification is a sign of success

Since 2012, there have been many brands who have simplified their logo designs – Instagram, Vimeo, Netflix et al. From our perspective, this is a sign that a company has reached a level of success and become so much a part of people’s lives, that incorporating a name or additional imagery is just no longer necessary.

Leaders of iconography

Twitter’s iconography has long emphasised a sense of playfulness, for example their default profile photo for new users was always the egg shape, a reference to their main icon, the happy little bird. That was until 2017, when the team decided to go for two shapes, one a head the other shoulders, in a blogpost they explained:

“First, we explored gray, generic images to communicate that this profile photo is intended to be temporary. We looked at figures, photos, and patterns. For the figures, we thought about combinations of very common, circular shapes – these were a good starting point because they didn’t have any notable physical attributes.”

Moving away from the playful, Twitter’s temporary profile photo encompasses something more generic, universal and unbranded, a shift which has inevitably caused a split among user opinions.

Twitter may be exploring different styles and conjuring different emotions with their change in iconography, but it’s doubtful that the bird will ever disappear.

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Adam Parrish

Owner and creative director at Creative Freedom Ltd. Unbelievably cool icon design expert, husband, and father of two awesome girls. A proper decent chappy and thoroughly fab to work with. Ok, so I wrote my own bio…

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