The Twitter Logo And Brand: A Mighty Evolution To Perfection

March 30, 2023

By: Ryan Lau

The Twitter Logo And Brand: A Mighty Evolution To Perfection

Twitter has become the default for many people who want live updates on events or incidents. Playing host to the vast majority of world leaders, it has also become a political battlefield, and its role in the 2016 election shows the size to which the platform has grown.

Twitter is one of the top social networking platforms due to its massive user base of over 230 million people.

The social media behemoth has come a long way since its inception in 2006, both as a company and a brand. The Twitter logo appears on company t-shirts, billboards, and other promotional materials on almost every website.

Key takeaways:

  • The first Twitter logo in 2005 comprised a slimy, green color that will soon change to the brand’s iconic baby blue.
  • The iconic Twitter bird, known as Larry Bird, was first introduced in 2010. The bird would undergo a couple of redesigns into the one we know and love today.
  • The Twitter icon is a perfect example of the golden ratio, a design principle that promotes a psychologically pleasing effect.
  • Twitter has four male founders, and as the business grew, so did the tension between executives over the business’s structure.
  • Elon Musk offered to buy Twitter for $44 billion, and the deal went through on October 27, 2022.
  • Many Twitter users are concerned regarding the platform’s new direction under Musk’s leadership.

The Twitter logo evolution through the years

Today, anyone who has ever used the internet is unlikely to go a day without seeing Twitter's iconic bird logo, but it didn’t start with immediate recognition. In fact, it fought its way to perfection.

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Learn about the Twitter logo evolution through the years.

2005 to 2006: The original Twitter logo


The original Twitter logo was never actually used on a public product! This logo was only used as the program was being developed and designed. Originally, the logo used a dark and light green color scheme, with drops of dew covering it. The original Twitter logo originally designed to represent nature and freedom, an attribute that would continue to be illustrated throughout future logo redesigns.

There were many other designs and even other names, with Twitter beating out alternatives like "twitch" and "smssy"! Two of the runner-up designs had the tagline "an Odeo thing" directly under the name, but the final design didn't include any association with the parent company.

2006 to 2010: Blue makes an entrance


When the platform first launched in 2006, its official logo was designed by Linda Gavin, and was created in only one day! It was now spelled with no capitals, like before, but including the vowels for a more unmistakable look. This Twitter logo evolution uses similar bubble text as the previous version. The only sharp edge that can be found is on the lowercase "t". The logo's simplicity was meant to represent the company's simplicity.

For this first official Twitter logo, they completely changed the color palette, moving from green to a light aquamarine. A common color within the social media sector, blue is associated with trust, calmness, and integrity.

Read here if you want to learn more about brand colors and their symbolism.

2010 to 2012: The introduction of the iconic bird


The next major update to the Twitter logo came with the addition of the now famous bird. What is the name of the Twitter bird? Well, you can call him Larry. The first bird (not the one in today's logo) was bought by one of the employees for $15 on the stock website.

The Twitter logo was redesigned by Simon Oxley. Originally, it was a cartoon-like mascot, with eyes, paws, and eyebrows. However, the silhouette image soon replaced him, with the paws removed for a more minimalist style.

Named Larry after the NBA player Larry Bird, the mascot has since become the primary identifying feature of the brand. A bird is an obvious choice thanks to the brand's association with it via the name and posts being called ‘tweets'.

2012 to today: Perfection in a logo


This is the logo Twitter knows and loves. Only two years after its introduction, the Twitter bird logo was again redesigned and updated on June 6, 2012. Twitter stated at the launch that there wouldn't be any changes to this logo for a long time. They decided to eliminate the name "Twitter", thinking (correctly) that the updated bird alone was enough to identify the brand.

The removal of the brand's name from this Twitter logo evolution is similar to the change that the Starbucks logo went through in 2011.

While the bird may look similar, there are a few key changes in sight. First, the color was slightly altered to a darker shade, close to true blue. This was done so that the logo would stand out better on the white background of a webpage! Additionally, the fluff on the top of the head and the top feather were removed to simplify the new Twitter logo.

They also changed the Twitter bird name from Larry to simply the "Twitter Bird." The Twitter Bird symbolizes the joy of unlimited freedom and communication.

The Twitter logo today: The significance of the golden ratio

One of the central purposes of the company was, and is, to give users the freedom to share their concerns and ideas. To commemorate this, the bird is directed upward to symbolize freedom and hope, with the blue color also associated with freedom and unity.

The Twitter logo golden ratio consisted of 15 circles layered on top of each other. This improved the idea of rounded corners, which has been a part of every Twitter logo since the first one in 2005.

The Twitter logo utilizing the golden ratio | Source
The Twitter logo utilizing the golden ratio | Source

The design was created by Martin Grasser, who had just graduated from the Art Center College of Design. Grasser built thousands of bird designs before creating 24, which Dorsey chose from.

The chosen design is built out of perfect circles, a technique previously used by Apple, Pepsi, and iCloud. To make it even more perfect and visually satisfying, the proportions between the bigger and smaller circles are close to the golden ratio.

But what is the golden ratio?

The golden ratio

According to Professor of Mechanical Engineering Adrian Bejan, the golden ratio is the most elite proportion transfer, and it manifests itself in the things we design! It is said to be in the Parthenon, the Pyramids of Giza, and the Mona Lisa. But how do you form the golden ratio?

It occurs when a line is divided into two, where the longer part, divided by the smaller one, has a ratio of 1.618, and the longer part divided by both sections also has a ratio of 1.618.

The golden spiral, which can be seen all over nature, is made with this ratio.

The golden ratio found naturally in nature
The golden ratio found naturally in nature

Like a force of nature, Twitter continues to be a giant in the social media arena, and its rise to prominence is an interesting one.

Twitter’s controversial history: A power struggle for command

Twitter never had a mother, but it did have four fathers. The people behind Twitter are Evan Williams, Biz Stone, Jack Dorsey, and Noah Glass.

Twitter's four founders in order: Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, Noah Glass, and Evan Williams | Source: Mensxp
Twitter's four founders in order: Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, Noah Glass, and Evan Williams | Source: Mensxp

This story starts in San Francisco when Noah Glass founded Odeo, a service in which a user could dial a number, and it would turn a voice message into an mp3 file that would be hosted on the internet. Evan Williams, a former Google employee, would become one of the early investors in Odeo.

This company would slowly transition away from the original company idea, instead becoming a podcasting platform. In 2005, Williams invited his friend and ex-Google employee to join the company. As the company grew further, they hired more employees, and one of them was web developer Jack Dorsey.

Evan Williams with Odeo | Source: Business Insider
Evan Williams with Odeo | Source: Business Insider

Unfortunately for them, in 2005, Apple announced that a podcasting platform would be built into every iPod and iTunes device. They quickly realized that the tech giant had just crushed them.

Evan Williams, now the CEO, considered shutting down the company, but Glass convinced him to see if the employees could think of a new direction for Odeo to pivot towards.

One day, Williams approached Stone and Dorsey and said, “Why don't you just take a break? Take two weeks and build something totally different. Something fun, something you guys really want to do.”

And so, the two of them built a prototype to share with the company. This centered around sharing what you were doing or about to do, similar to status updates on Facebook.

They created a system where you could write a message to a number (40404), and it would send it to all your friends. You could also send messages via the Twitter website.

Text 40404 to get Twitter updates | Source
Text 40404 to get Twitter updates | Source

Glass took charge of the project, with Dorsey doing the coding for it. While it was executed well and was innovative, it lacked a purpose and a direction. It garnered a healthy amount of skepticism due to how different it was from what Odeo was originally about.

Odeo employees racked up hundreds of dollars in SMS bills; otherwise, it didn't expand quickly. But then, when Twitter was used to help spread the word about an earthquake that occurred in San Francisco, the founders realized what the purpose of Twitter could be: news. With this new purpose, they had thousands of users just a few months later.

From early on, Noah wanted to split Twitter off from Odeo and become the Twitter CEO, and he had already done the paperwork. He was nervous about Williams and talked about it with his now close friend, Dorsey.

But then, Williams fired Glass upon request from Dorsey. Dorsey had given Williams an ultimatum: Glass must be let go, or he would leave. However, Dorsey himself begs to differ on this theory.

According to The New Yorker, Glass "became disruptively unstable" — he was going through a divorce at the time that Twitter was transitioning from idea to product — which Dorsey believes was the real reason for his departure, not an ultimatum.

Noah Glass's name was largely forgotten, while Jack Dorsey would soon become the CEO of Twitter, with Williams becoming the chairman.

Thanks to some clever interactive advertising and being mentioned by panelists and speakers, Twitter became popular during the 2007 SXSW conference, with attendees using Twitter to find out what was going on at the conference.

Twitter wins the SXSW web award | Source
Twitter wins the SXSW web award | Source

Twitter began to grow faster and faster and soon became the place to go to know what was actively happening. An example of this is when a picture of the crash landing of a US Airways flight on the Hudson was posted on Twitter before it was on traditional media outlets.

US Airways crash reported on Twitter before official news outlets | Source
US Airways crash reported on Twitter before official news outlets | Source

In 2011, Biz Stone stepped down from Twitter, but he returned in 2017. He has been working on improving the culture and life of Twitter. He said, “You might even say the job description includes being Biz Stone.” With all that he is doing to help improve and guide the company, he continues to have a major impact on the platform to this day.

Twitter went public in 2013 and bought Vine in 2012, releasing it as a standalone app in 2013. Today, it has 3900 employees and, in 2019, made 3.4 billion in revenue. As of 2020, it has 1.3 billion accounts, 330 million monthly users, and 83% of the world's leaders have a Twitter account.

Twitter today: A heated battle for ownership

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced his resignation as CEO of the social media business in November 2021. Twitter's chief technology officer, Parag Agrawal, would take over as CEO.

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"I've decided to leave Twitter because I believe the company is ready to move on from its founders," Dorsey stated in a statement, though he didn't go into further explanation.

Dorsey stated in a tweet that Agrawal had been his pick to lead the firm for some time, given how deeply he understands the company and its needs.

Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, agreed to buy Twitter for almost $44 billion on Monday. This agreement would take effect in April 2022, giving him control of the prominent social network used by world leaders, celebrities, and cultural influencers.

But the tides turned quickly.

In July 2022, Musk, owner of the Tesla brand, announced to Twitter that the deal to purchase the company for $54.20 per share was off because, in his view, Twitter had broken the terms of the agreement. Since then, Musk and Twitter have filed lawsuits against one another, with Twitter asking a Delaware Court of Chancery judge to compel Musk to consummate the deal.

A five-day trial is scheduled to begin on October 17, 2022.

Due to their shared belief that Twitter's algorithm needs to be more transparent and users should have more control over the material they see, Dorsey endorsed Musk's takeover offer for the company.

That is, until Musk made the decision to subpoena Dorsey for any documents pertaining to the acquisition agreement signed in April, including material pertaining to fraudulent or spam accounts or the methodology used by Twitter to determine the number of active users.

Musk vs. Dorsey for communication and documents | Source: Hindustan Times
Musk vs. Dorsey for communication and documents | Source: Hindustan Times

It's difficult to say what knowledge Dorsey possesses that Musk could not access just by texting him. With billions of dollars on the line, Musk's legal team is pulling out all the stops to back up his admittedly weak claim that the company is lying about how many bots and spammers are among its daily active users.

Musk officially takes hold of Twitter

Musk's $44 billion acquisition of Twitter is now complete. 'The bird is freed,' he wrote on Twitter, followed by, 'let the good times roll.'

Parag Agrawal, the company's CEO, was reportedly among the laid-off executives. They escorted Agrawal and two other executive officers out of Twitter's headquarters. The agreement's conclusion ends months of legal disputes, but it raises concerns about the platform's future.

People on Twitter have been wondering what will happen to the social media site now that Musk owns it. He promised to reinstate banned users, a group that may include former US president Donald Trump. Twitter had warned of a danger Trump posed to the platform by inciting further violent behavior, but Musk called the ban "foolish."

So as not to turn the site into a "free-for-all hellscape," he announced the creation of a council to moderate the content on the site.

Concerns have been raised that Musk's free speech policies are too lax, which could lead to the readmission of users who have been banned for spreading hate speech or false information. In addition, he proposed that users pay $8 monthly for the coveted blue checkmark on Twitter. There was initial pushback against Musk's intention to charge users $20 per month to verify their accounts.

Musk had previously criticized Twitter's moderation policies and accused the platform of being biased toward left-wing views, so his takeover of the platform has sparked a firestorm of debate about free speech versus online harm.

What are some commonly asked questions about the iconic Twitter logo? Get your questions answered with these three FAQs.

1. What does the Twitter logo look like?

The blue Twitter bird, which resembles a mountain bluebird with a hint of a hummingbird, has a beak and body that point toward the sky, making it "the perfect emblem of freedom, hope, and boundless possibilities," according to creative designer Douglas Bowman.

2. What is the name of the Twitter bird?

The Twitter bird name is Larry!

Co-founder Biz Stone tweeted that the name was chosen to honor NBA great Larry Bird, who played for Stone's beloved Boston Celtics. Douglas Bowman advanced the concept and identity of the logo design.

3. Who created the new Twitter logo?

Martin Grasser was the creator of the Twitter logo.

The Twitter Bird is based on a mountain bluebird, according to creative designer Douglas Bowman, and its wings are made up of three overlapping circles. Twitter appears to be highly protective of this design since they state on their website that it is not to be altered in any manner.

Conclusion: Humble beginnings to formidable heights

Twitter was born out of a failing company, but over the years, it found its purpose and place in society. Twitter is one of the world's largest social media platforms, with 83% of world leaders using it.

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It is no coincidence that Twitter's current logo is so effective; the firm owned the bird design from 2010 to 2012, and the new design is stunning thanks to its usage of 15 perfectly sized circles and the golden ratio.

The famous Twitter bird has become adored by fans, and its consistent branding has allowed the simple symbol to now stand for the brand. While its history is not without trouble, Twitter was able to create something novel and stands for quick, straightforward communication.

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