The consumer backlash that hit the Gap after it unveiled a new logo in early October demonstrates the powerful connection people have to the visual representations of their beloved brands. This got us thinking about other super-brand emblems, and whether they could be improved upon. We then challenged five design shops to re-create the iconic logos of Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Given the opportunity, how would they reflect the spirit of the services these Web powerhouses provide? Here are their ideas.
Back to the future
To reflect the spirit of Facebook, we chose to comment not on its values, but its social effect.
This omnipresent platform has forever altered the concept of identity: Now, what we link to and like more authentically frames who we are.
In iconizing this idea, we paid homage to René Magritte's The Son of Man (his self-portrait in which an apple hides his face) and combined it with Facebook's "like" button.
As Magritte believed, there is always something that obscures the truth. Now, more than ever, we control that obstruction and in an online world it serves as our identity.
Youtubing in the zeitgeist
Over the past half decade, YouTube has revolutionized the idea of watching, sharing and making videos, along the way creating a passion economy on an unmatched scale.
But since YouTube's launch, the social experiment in general has matured, and YouTube, of course, along with it. We have witnessed its evolving role in society from a site showing a sprinkling of videos (the first to be uploaded: "Me at the Zoo") into a sophisticated network. Amateurs as well as professionals broadcast political messages, educational programs, cultural content, opinion pieces and art programs.
However, YouTube's logo no longer reflects the revolution it initiated. Today, it should reflect a Zeitgeist in which people are part of something greater and bigger than themselves. (It's a logo that is also customized for each user on his or her home page.)
"You" is more than a salutation: It's an homage to the thinkers and makers who are the future of YouTube.
The dynamics of tweeting
Everyday Twitter receives about 300,000 new sign-ups and 8,900 topics trend. Additionally, about 50 million tweets are sent. It's a challenge to tailor all of this information to a user's needs and interests.
We see Twitter not only as a communication tool, but as one of the first successful models of how to aggregate real-time data. To express Twitter's power in capturing location-specific real-time data, we designed a logo (above) that is automatically customized on people's Twitter home pages.
This dynamic home page logo creates plot points based on the most recent tweets from people you follow, tweets from your followers and trending topics. (The feeds are tailored to your interests based on your behavior on Twitter.) Click on the topic points and you are directed to the topic feed page or a user's profile. The result is a series of touch points that visually represent a social network of connections between users through followings, topics and shared interests, all of which formulate into a T-shaped map.
The Internet can be anything to anyone. And Google, arguably its stickiest site, can connect you to everything you need and everything that matters.
Google's mantra, "Don't be evil," is the premise behind this logo. Our design goal: to create a brand expression that's simple and easy to understand for anyone, anytime, anywhere.
Every company's wish is to reach consumers as early in their lives as possible. That's why we combined ambiguity and the rudiments of a child's vision and vocabulary. We reduced the brand name length to three letters, and adopted the color treatment from the existing imagery. We also streamlined the typography to increase legibility at large and small sizes. The primary colors of red, yellow and blue are most visible to babies. And, the sound "goo" (or "guh") is just shy of the word "good." The design solution? "Goo-be good."
The Twitter face-off
Twitter is a lot of things: a global, real-time news source, a means of instant communication and a barometer of social dialogue. It's also the go-to medium for the famous, infamous and their millions of followers. For many, Twitter is a real-time soapbox in 140 characters or less.
What struck us most is how people often feel closer to a famous person when they follow them. Our logo—the faces of Twitter—plays off this with an infusion of illustrations of Twitter stars like Oprah, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, Ashton Kutcher and President Obama.
The look's playful colors hint at the sometimes trivial, often fun nature of the platform. Ashton's punking who? Obama hates stitches! Shaq said the Colts could win the Super Bowl? Discuss. Better yet, tweet.