Brand Equity Pop Quiz - What Do Twitter, Nike, Apple, Target, and Starbucks Have in Common?

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Posted Jun 14, 2012
Susan Gunelius

Time for a brand equity pop quiz. What do Twitter, Nike, Apple, Target, and Starbucks have in common? It's an exclusive club that few brands can enter in their lifetimes, and last week, Twitter joined it -- less than six years after the site launched. The answer is: logos without names. Each of those brands has attained a level of success in terms of brand recognition and brand equity that allows them to eliminate their names from their logo designs. In other words, each of those logos can stand on its own.

twitter bird logo

Of course, those brands aren't the only ones that have reached a level of brand equity success that allows for a logo with no name (you can see more logos without brand names here). However, the list isn't long. It's amazing that Twitter could do it in less than six years. In a blog post, Twitter's creative director, Doug Bowman, announced that the Twitter bird had been updated, the "t" in the brand name would now be capitalized (from "twitter" to "Twitter" -- even Tweet has to be capitalized now), and the Twitter name would no longer accompany the logo.

Even a trip to the Twitter home page reveals a new Twitter bird in the upper-left corner, but no brand name. I'd show a screenshot in this blog post, but according to the new Twitter Trademark and Content Display Policy, that's probably not a good idea. In fact, that's probably the only area where the new Twitter logo design falls short.

First, I should clarify that I'm a big proponent of publishing your logo usage rules and logo files for download on your brand website. You should want people to talk about your brand, so make it easy for them to refer to your brand, company, products, and so on by giving them easy-to-follow rules and images they can republish. However, Twitter is asking for some things in its policy that are going to be very difficult to enforce. Let's take a closer look.

The policy states the following regarding using the logo and promoting your Twitter account (note that the following bullets represent just a handful of the "don'ts" in Twitter's policy):

  • Don't use speech bubbles or words around the bird.
  • Don't rotate or change the direction of the bird.
  • Don't animate the bird.
  • Don't duplicate the bird.
  • Don't change the color of the bird.
  • Don't manipulate the Twitter bird.
  • Don't create your own buttons or images using our logos unless technically necessary.

Here's a look at some of the things you're not allowed to do with the logo from the policy page:

twitter brand
twitter brand logo

Given the fact that Twitter has 140 million active users, it's unlikely that all of them will pay attention to those rules or understand them. Think of all the Twitter social media icons that are already across the web on blogs, websites, and so on. Do a quick image search for "Twitter" on Google or Flickr and you'll find hundreds or thousands of images with manipulated Twitter birds. It's not going to stop.

Next, the specific requirements in the policy related to displaying Tweets (notice how I followed the new policy and capitalized "Tweets" there) in broadcast, online, or offline, are unlikely to be followed all the time. It's not that the rules are difficult to follow, it's just unlikely that the majority of users will pay attention to them. When Joe Blogger wants to show a Tweet that he read on his blog, it's highly unlikely that he's going to ask the person who originally Tweeted it (should "Tweeted" be capitalized, I'm not sure based on the policy) for permission to do so. Nor is it likely that he'll follow the 12 steps on this page or follow the instructions to embed the Tweet as the Twitter policy states.

The problem is changing behaviors that people have had for years. With 140 million active users Tweeting 340 million Tweets per day, it's a big challenge. But perhaps Twitter knows it's a losing battle, and the published policy is for legal protection only. That's a far more likely scenario.Despite the usage policy flaws, the new Twitter bird is moving ahead alone -- without a brand name to identify it. I think the brand has the equity to pull it off successfully and will keep growing -- one Tweet at a time. What do you think?

Images: Twitter

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