Twitter adopts “intentionally imperfect” visual identity

Posted on by Guy Cookson

While TikTok gets all the buzz, Instagram has the swag, and Facebook gets the largest number of users, Twitter has managed against all odds to retain its relevancy.

And in some ways this is surprising. For many years Twitter seemed as though it was teetering on the edge of disaster. In the early years outages were common as it struggled to cope with its volume of users – a case study in being the victim of its own success. A series of pivots, u-turns and failed product launches unsettled investors, advertisers and users alike.

But in recent years the ship has steadied with slower but consistent user growth and an increase in advertising revenue. Twitter has been profitable since 2018 – which is not a given in Silicon Valley.

There is still no better place to find captivating hot takes, informed insights and untrammelled wit – so long as you invest sufficient time and energy into curating your feed – and avoiding the all caps trolls.

So it is interesting to see Twitter’s new visual identity and design system, which playfully embraces the platform’s edgier and more anarchic side, and usefully differentiates the brand from its competitors, especially buttoned-up Facebook, which has never excelled at design.

“We wanted an art-first approach to our brand identity that encompassed emotion and expression,” explains Twitter’s creative director, Donna Lamar. “So rather than build the system up from each component part, we embarked upon building a creative design system that’s intentionally imperfect.”

“We started with Tweets at the centre,” says chief marketing officer, Leslie Berland. “We then tore stuff apart and layered over again. We threw paint on photos, ripped posters, scratched out words, and faded images. We added textures and pixels, movement and memes.”

It is an approach that fits the platform’s ethos and gives the brand space to be expressive, while retaining aspects that are familiar to people, including its famous blue bird.

Berland adds: “The conversations on Twitter are messy and complex, intense and inspiring, hilarious and ridiculous, weird and ugly, shocking and beautiful, disturbing and moving. They’re raw and they’re real.”


A version of this article was published as part of a weekly column by Guy Cookson on marketing, design, trends and strategy in the Lancaster Guardian, Blackpool Gazette and Lancashire Post. See our brand, web design and marketing recent projects.

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