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Twitter presents a new visual identity based on Universal UX and inclusive design.
The company wants to leave behind a very controversial year, which included accusations of spreading false news regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, influence in the government elections in the USA and even the expulsion of former President Donald Trump.
For this project, Twitter’s internal development team teamed with the French design company Atelier Irradié, a relatively new design studio (less than 5 years), but working with such prestigious brands as Chanel, Nike and obviously Twitter (among others). The work of this studio is oriented towards typography and design in its most artistic vein, which makes it a perfect choice for the project.
We do this because Twitter and the conversations that happen here are living, breathing, and always evolving. They’re defined by the people talking, shaped by their voices, imprinted by the images and words that fill our timelines every day. The brand isn’t us, it’s all of you.Leslie Berland, CMO at Twitter
Leslie Berland, CMO at Twitter added several posts about the new visual identity and brand voice starting yesterday.
There’s a ton of work happening across Twitter to better serve you, to make the product better, safer, smarter. Our marketing team sees its role as amplifying the best of Twitter and the voices that make it so, creating work that’s honest and open, authentic and true.Leslie Berland, CMO at Twitter
Interestingly, less than a week after writing the article on Inclusive UX Design and Universal UX, Twitter launches its new brand identity based on these paradigms.
Of course, we are not saying that we had anything to do with the project or that we influenced Twitter 4 or 5 days in advance. What we want to highlight is the coincidence (each day less rare) in recognizing inclusive design as fundamental in more attractive and fulfilling user experiences.
Rebranding a visual identity without a new logo
A curiosity about this new visual identity is that it is exclusively based on user experience (mostly Cultural UX).
In other words: what changes is not the logo (neither the pictorial brand nor the wordmark), but the context in which the logo is presented. To do this, Twitter introduces fluid ways of expressing a brand voice, with an artistic flavor that gives more interest and power to the brand strategy.
You’ll start seeing this new work in videos and posters, presentations, GIFs and banners. You’ll see some pops and winks in the product too. Our logo isn’t changing, that Bird is iconic and lives on! But we’ll be playing around with how it shows up. pic.twitter.com/VhlcVtFlNQ— Leslie Berland (@leslieberland) January 27, 2021
Likewise, the images presented are inclusive from many angles: social, economic, cultural, gender, etc. We can see from urban landscapes intervened by “Twitter posts”, cat memes, words in different languages, people being simply themselves, regardless of their race, gender or beliefs.
The style is artsy, often using grunge and eroded surfaces, typographic construction and a lots of motion design. This is one of the tendencies we announced at the end of last year in our article about UX Design Trends for 2021.
Stilistically speaking, pop art is represented by meme culture in a halftone design technique party with hype and cool people.
In this regard, Twitter scores a homerun. The images are attractive, modern, artistic and interesting. They shout “social media” without any doubt, which is essential in brand recognition after a rebranding process.
Additional elements of brand identity.
In addition to posters, videos and posts, Twitter introduces a new Grotesque typeface called Chirp. This typeface is clean and simple lines, without straying too far from the current font used by Twitter, San Francisco (created by Apple).
The font was created by the Swiss-based design agency Grilli Type Foundry, known for its clean, modern fonts.
Derrett Derwin, design director for Twitter, says Chirp has a “human character” with “international sensibilities.” According to a thread posted by the designer, it was seen as a balance between American and European Gothic fonts.
Follow Derrit’s thread for more background on Chirp’s development.https://t.co/0FKB00IiMx— Grilli Type Foundry (@grillitype) January 27, 2021
The new font is not in use yet, but it will be very interesting to see its application in the new Twitter communications. Another detail that we do not know is if the typography will be applied only to the elements that support the new brand image, or if they will be applied to the user interface at some point.
Cultural UX and User Psychology
As we said before, the new brand image ascribes to the Universal UX parameters as a declaration of principles. It is as if Twitter said: everything they said about us is wrong, we are much more than that.
In this sense, we believe that the purpose is well achieved, and probably a deep analysis and user research from the psychology and anthropology plane would yield data of great interest and wealth (we assume that the Twitter UX team has already done it, and hence the new brand identity).
Here are more examples of the work👇— Leslie Berland (@leslieberland) January 27, 2021
We’re excited to hear your thoughts and share more as this evolves over time reflecting the beautiful, bold, complex conversations that shape Twitter, our lives and the world. pic.twitter.com/AOEMZU6jkT
But this perception is not only based on images or visual elements with greater or less conceptual depth. Twitter also introduces its new project called Birdwatch:
People come to Twitter to stay informed, and they want credible information to help them do so. We apply labels and add context to Tweets, but we don’t want to limit efforts to circumstances where something breaks our rules or receives widespread public attention. We also want to broaden the range of voices that are part of tackling this problem, and we believe a community-driven approach can help. That’s why today we’re introducing Birdwatch, a pilot in the US of a new community-driven approach to help address misleading information on Twitter.Introducing Birdwatch, a community-based approach to misinformation
Universal UX without User Interface (UI)
Twitter’s new branding does not change its logo. And it does not change its user interface either, something that has been claimed a lot since it is very complex for certain inexperienced users, especially in the age ranges of older adults and the elderly.
In our modest opinion, that’s the only aspect of rebranding that fails to make it completely complaint with inclusive UX design.
However, it is fair to recognize that although the rebrand process is based on the paradigms of Universal UX, it is still a process to create an action plan to change a brand perception.
And as such, it is based on images, videos, typography and visual elements that communicate the voice of the brand and a new visual identity based on inclusion. But it does not delve into the product that the brand offers (in this case the Twitter website, or the mobile application).
One last criticism: Color, race, nationality and non-binary genders are represented. This is GREAT. On the other hand, you will not find anything related to children or the elderly. This is something that we consider to be related to Western culture in general, as well as the culture of marketing hype. This is a really minor criticism, and what they do is somewhat logical when you see the big picture. Twitter’s audience is not children or elderly, and they never showed any concern in being so. All its communication efforts were always oriented to the age segment that goes from 20 to 50 years.
Conclusion: The power of inclusive design
As can be inferred from the previous paragraphs, we are really very excited about this rebranding and the new visual identity, as well as the approach that both Twitter and the design agency took for it.
We believe that a social media company with such influence among users can create a positive experience of inclusion that will enrich the perception of the brand among its users.
Therefore, if the user experience is better, more inclusive and visually attractive, we estimate that engagement with the brand will be higher.
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