By Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk
Published on SocialMediaToday on June 7, 2012.
Yes, with huge pomp, bustle and busy busy excitement, Twitter has done something so gutsy, so envelope-pushing, so groundbreaking as to merit attention.
Lots of attention. The kind of attention one kid needs just to keep things fair when another does something like, say, have an IPO, the little attention hog. They went and gave the birdie a haircut! Can you imagine? The official explanation from ~:<> is rather lovely. Poetic even. Nearly so self-important as to induce a gag reflex.
“From now on, this bird will be the universally recognizable symbol of Twitter. (Twitter is the bird, the bird is Twitter.) There’s no longer a need for text, bubbled typefaces, or a lowercase “t” to represent Twitter. 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.” (Side note: Does anyone else start picturing Peter Griffin from Family Guy singing this song?) (Second side note: Really? I’m all about branding, but this smacks of taking yourselves a bit too seriously, doesn’t it?)
To be fair, that’s not the only thing they did in this big-deal rebranding. They also gave the bird a slightly manlier hue of blue and tipped it more jauntily toward the stars. Fly little bird and take me to your social media heaven! Oh, and they accompanied the redesign with a host of very serious guidelines and demands for using their official symbol. Without them to turn to, users might have failed to “display the Twitter brand or trademarks larger than your own marks” or even gone so far as to “use the Twitter brand or Tweet mark to refer to any service other than Twitter” in direct violation of the rules. (Question: can birds sue Twitter for infringement of trademark or maybe intellectual property theft? That Tweet thing seems like an iffy claim. I thought verbs were in the public domain, but what do I know?)
Okay, okay, we are being mean, but this whole non-event smacks of pointless preening and feather-fluffing. The platform is a huge success. People love Twitter. People use Twitter for business and personal sharing all the time. Which makes it even more inconvenient that now all who display the logo on their websites are expected, nay, ordered to go at once and change all digital collateral to match the brand spanking new more rugged and streamlined bird logo. It reminds me of a famous performer with a penchant for purple who changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol. That’s right – no name, no gender, just a symbol. But a fact that often gets lost in the retelling is that Prince made the change so he could continue performing and get out of a soul-sucking record contract. I’m not seeing a similarly legit reason for Twitter’s move. It looks sort of like a silly, desperate cry for attention from the bird to whom we may not refer by name (at least visually), but who still Tweets.
Rebranding can be a good move when it is called for and done well. Rebranding a thriving company for purely cosmetic reasons is not an example of this. Inconveniencing your many fans and users for the sake of a haircut smacks of narcissistic drama.