Twitter has had its fair share of ups and down since its inception in 2006. In the past year alone, it was accused of contributing to the spread of pandemic-related misinformation, became the focal point of high profile cancellations including JK Rowling and, most recently, permanently suspended Donald Trump’s account for inciting violence following the storming of the US Capitol.
In the wake of a turbulent 2020, the social media platform has unveiled a new visual identity and design system – its first refresh in five years – which aims to reflect the nuanced reality of the Twittersphere.
Described by Twitter’s executive creative director, Donna Lamar, in a new blog post as “intentionally imperfect”, the refreshed branding was developed by the company’s in-house team in collaboration with Paris-based studio Irradié.
While the new branding retains some of Twitter’s key design features, including its bird logo and blue colour palette, the rest of the identity is designed to feel a little more unpredictable.
“We started with Tweets at the centre. 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,” chief marketing officer, Leslie Berland, explains in an accompanying Twitter thread.
Nodding to the platform’s reputation for heated debates and viral moments, the design system can be dialled up or down depending on the situation or conversation it is applied to.
Twitter’s in-house team also worked with Swiss type foundry Grilli Type to create its first ever bespoke typeface, Chirp. Blending American Gothic and European Grotesque styles, and adding handmade quirks of early woodcut specimens, the typeface is intended to be a contemporary and versatile addition.
Designed to work for a global audience, Twitter’s in-house team is currently in the process of extending Chirp to languages beyond the Latin alphabet.
“Chirp strikes the balance between messy and sharp to amplify the fun and irreverence of a Tweet, but can also carry the weight of seriousness when needed,” Lamar adds.