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Case Study: The Journey Of Your Favorite Social Media Icons

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Social Media Icons

Last updated on January 14th, 2020

Social media platforms are the most valued means of interaction in the modern world. The domination of social media channels is so high that even their logos have become important part of our lives. If we look into our daily routines, most of us start our days by tapping on these social media icons on smartphones or other devices. But, do you know that, back days, these familiar icons used to look entirely different? The design journey of icons have been tremendous which reflected those times as well.

The number of users on social media platforms is multiplying by each day. More than 3.7 billions of people use social apps daily to interact with the world. A reason behind the roaring success of social media is that it helps in bringing people closer irrespective of any distance. The world has truly become a small global village because of social media channels. But social media icons also have contributed their bit to drive the attention of people.

A well thought brand logo design is the first condition to lead a business successfully. People are naturally drawn towards an appealing and aesthetically created designs especially a logo. Such a design conveys a message to the viewers. For that, a designer uses the elements of colors, fonts, etc., strategically to extract a desired emotional response.

That is true also for the social media icons that we see on our smartphone screens or other devices. Each of the social media logos are an attractive piece of designs that we all love to see every time. That is the reason that we tap or click on those icons so often.

What If Social Media Icon Designs Were Boring?

In that case, a majority of people might not have shown their interest in using social media channels. The most important thing to note about icons is that they are the true reflection of the brand.

Whereas, most businesses want to target audiences. Hence, they research the customers’ interests and design the logos accordingly to please them. Although, as per the changing audience interests, they keep on updating the logos aka icons as well. Therefore, social media icons that we see today look radically different from their first versions. We can say that logo design journey is also the journey of audience interests.

However, when a company wants to redesign its logo, there are high chances that the audience won’t accept the changes. Generally, the people’s emotional attachment to older designs comes in the way. In some cases, people even reacted aggressively to a change in design especially when it comes to company’s logo.

People do not like logo redesigns, which discourages a company from recreating a logo or adopt a whole new concept for a logo. Therefore, the redesigning becomes tricky and companies have to do it subtly.

How Your Favorite Social Media Icons Underwent Design Changes Over The Years?

01. Facebook

Facebook is amongst world’s biggest social media channels. Today, it has over 2.45 billion active monthly users. Facebook started its journey fifteen years ago on a humble note when it was known as ‘Facemash’, later into ‘The Facebook’, and finally, ‘Facebook’ that we know today.

Mike Buzzard designed the Facebook logo and give it a professional look. He created a logo that was a modification of the typeface Klavika.

First Facebook Logo – 2005

Facebook logo 2005

The blue color of this logo was mostly used by social media channels as it evoked the emotions of friendliness. But, the distinctive blue hue of the logo was picked for a different reason.

“Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, suffered from deuteranopia, a form of color-blindness, which meant that he could distinguish only blue color easily. Therefore, blue was the obvious choice for the Facebook logo background.”

What was more interesting is that the designer created just the perfect logo for Facebook in the first attempt. It was a distinct, clean, and scalable symbol. One of the characteristics of good logos was that they were timeless designs and this logo came true on this standard. The company kept the same original logo design for the next decade.

In 2013, a slight change was made in the ‘F’ icon by removing a faint blue line at the bottom of the logo design.

The Facebook icon underwent some further minor changes in 2015. The alterations were such minute that they were not visible to the users. In that year, Facebook kept the blue background but the font was a little thinner. The letter ‘a’ also had a facelift. Also, the new logo had a custom typeface. The old Facebook logo had the use of the Klavika typeface.

The Updated Version Of The Facebook Logo Launched In 2015

Facebook Logo

In 2019, Facebook tweaked its logo further to make it more adaptable to smartphones. So, its app icon was given a circular shape from the earlier square one.

The Present Facebook Logo & Icon Version For Smartphones In 2019

Social Media Icon

The lesson to learn from the Facebook icon is that get your logo design perfectly done when you use it for the first time. In that way, such a visual identity of your brand will be intact for many more decades to come for consistency and customer loyalty.

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02. Twitter

Unlike the Facebook logo, the Twitter logo journey had been full of major changes in its design. The original Twitter wordmark appeared to the public in 2006.

The prototype logo of twitter was designed by the company’s co-founder Noah Glass and it looked like this:

Twitter first logo

But this design was mocked-up ahead of Twitter launch for its unpleasant look. At that time the company name was ‘twttr’. Later on, for the official launch of the company and the logo, a new logo was designed.

A Swedish graphic designer Linda Gavin created the new Twitter logo in just one day. So, the company name was spelled out in a funny and child-like way to convey a message of inclusivity and friendliness.

Twitter Logo Created By Linda Gavin

Twitter logo 2006

This logo was loved by all in the company and was adopted as the official logo. It continued to be the identity of the social channel for many years until the bird came.

In 2006, the Twitter Bird made a debut in the Twitter logo design. The bird was added to the logo as a way to identify the company’s site. The Twitter icon bird was initially called ‘Larry The Bird’, named after Larry Bird from the NBA’S Boston Celtics.

But The Bird Also Underwent These Changes

Underwent These Changes

The logo with the bird design represented the company up to 2012. The bird was picked as the symbol of – ‘freedom, hope, and limitless possibility’.

The Logo Looked Like This

Previous Logo

While the bird design persisted, it appeared in various blue hues and the design also was inconsistent, which created confusion amongst viewers.

Therefore, to give consistency to the bird design, the company tweaked it in 2012 to make it more orderly. This gave birth to the bird that we are now familiar with. Now, the new bird is a streamlined silhouette and much simpler than before.

Later on, when the bird become a well recognized identity of Twitter, the company thought to remove the text accompanying it. Therefore, the bird is now the sole representative of the company’s brand. It is designed as a mountain bird that has its wings up.

The Twitter Logo Bird That We See Today

Latest Logo

We can say that the Twitter logo is the result of the company knowing its business goals and strategies to achieve them. When that happens, people take such a logo’s widespread visibility as the success and expansion of the business.

03. Instagram

Instagram is today the most popular image-based social media in terms of global reach, enthusiasm, and profitability. It is a clean platform that people can use without any trouble easily.

CEO and Co-founder of Instagram, Kevin Systrom, designed the company’s original logo. It looked like an old-style Polaroid Camera but the design could not convey what the company’s services had intended to offer.

First Instagram Logo

Instagram First Logo

After the first logo was a disaster, the company asked a professional designer and photographer Cole Rise to come up with the new logo design. So, multiple iterations were tried out in the next six months. Finally, they settled for a simpler camera icon.

How The Improved Instagram Logo Looked

Improved Logo Looked

In 2016, however, a new Instagram logo was released. A chief feature of the logo was that it was minimalist design as it stripped down all the extra elements of the previous logo. The company created this logo in-house in the nine-month period.

The Minimalist Logo Of Instagram We See Today

Minimalist Design

But as was expected, social media users reacted aggressively against the new logo design. They could not accept the changes in the older logo and go berserk. The reaction was presumed as social media people do not usually like the changes made in the social logos.

Now, looking back, we can say that the improvements in the design were the need of the time. The old logo had a 3D camera icon. But the use of the camera as a separate device was gradually becoming irrelevant for smartphone users. So, the removal of camera element from the new logo was perfectly justified.

The changes made in the Instagram icon were mainly to minimize and simplify it for the next generation audience. Accordinlgy, you should read your audience’sminds and do the changes gradually. But sometimes companies have to redesign their logos all of a sudden despite people’s displeasure as well.

04. Pinterest

Pinterest is one of the social media platforms whose logo designs remained unchanged right from its inception. This site works as a virtual pinboard of images for the users.

The original Pinterest logo did not have the familiar pin icon of today. In the initial days, the logo was created in a simple handwritten style in black with some bluish shades.

The Original Pinterest Logo

Original Pinterest

The Pinterest logo that we see today was first launched in 2010 to give the company a unique identity. A chief attraction of the logo was the letter ‘P’ that stood for the company name. But, it also perfectly represented the company’s service which is to let users create pinboards. The letter ‘P’ was designed to look like a pin that we use to secure something for us.

Pinterest Logo – 2010

Original Pinterest Logo

Since then, the company made relatively subtle changes only to the logo and kept it more or less the same. It was in 2017 that Pinterest icon went under some noticeable changes.

The lettering in the new design was completely to a more business-like typeface from previous handwritten style. However, the ‘P’ icon was left untouched which was a smart move by the company. The pin icon not only conveys the brand message but also shows how to use the service.

The Renewed Pinterest Logo

Renewed Pinterest Logo

05. YouTube

Former PayPal Employees, Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karimon launched YouTube in 2005 on Valentine’s Day as a video sharing platform. Since then, major elements of YouTube logo remained unchanged but  minor adjustments were made here and there. This is another example of a timeless logo.

The First YouTube Logo

First Logo Youtube

As you can see the logo has the word ‘Tube’ in the red rectangle with rounded corners, which stood for a television. Later, in 2011, the YouTube icon was turned into a flatter design by removing the shades of the previous design.

This time the designer used a darker red color. A reason for switching to the flatter design was that sleek flatscreens were fast replacing the old bulky CRT televisions.

Therefore, when the company removed the 3D gradient in the form of the shadow, the new flat logo design looked appealing to the new generation of audience. As a result, the logo became a modern design without making radical design changes.

Take A Look At The Flat Design

Flat Design

The first major radical change in the YouTube logo design was made in 2017. The TV shape element was shifted to a side to leave behind the word ‘Tube’.

Now, the TV shape appeared without text as the round-cornered red rectangle. The company name YouTube got a separate place by the side of the red icon. When compared to the original logo, the new logo appeared as unique and clean.

The new YouTube logo is a more flexible design that looks great on tiny phone screens and a variety of other devices. On the crowded small screens of smartphones, just the red rectangular icon is sufficient to represent the company and catch the users’ eye.

The Modern YouTube Logo From 2017 To This Day

Modern Design

Taking a clue from the example of YouTube logo design, business should update and refine their logos as per the changing times. But, you need to make changes in the design in a subtle way with a purpose that can take place in people’s minds forever.

So, from the above account, we can conclude that these major social media icons went through major design changes over the years. But the intention in tweaking or redesigning of these logos was to make them look simpler and memorable for the new audience. And, Anyone can create a logo for their new businesses in a few steps.

Wrapping Up

Most social media logos are unique but simple designs. The audience can instantly interact and engage with such a logo and company. But the design of these social media icons have also seen multiple changes over the years. A main purpose behind tweaking and redesigning of the logos is to convey a brand message to the new set of audience.

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