There’s a hot new wobble on the tech logo scene.
On Wednesday, Mark Zuckerberg unveiled Thread, a Twitter competitor that appears to be the fastest downloaded app of all. Each new user is greeted by the application’s logo, which is a pulsating, counterclockwise file usually rendered in white on a black background.
The logo is akin to the @ symbol found in Twitter handles and email addresses. However, it is just an abstract enough idea to get many other comparisons.
Online, people have speculated that the logo represents the letter G, the number 6, or letters Tamil and Malayalam alphabets. that Photo modified by Homer Simpson Spin where the character’s ear was replaced with the logo. Others have detected similarities to a snip of string or a piece of curly hair.
“If the Möbius stripe and ampersand had a child, it would kind of look like this,” said Rob Janoff, the designer who created the rainbow Apple logo.
Mr. Janoff said the logo’s ambiguity will likely end up helping people remember it. He likes the logo, which he said is close enough to the @ sign for viewers to feel familiar yet distinctive enough to grab their attention.
Graphic designer Jessica Walsh thinks it’s very confusing. “I didn’t get it when I saw it,” she said in an email. She said she would have tried putting the “T” in place of the “threads” in the center of the logo instead.
Like most modern corporate icons, a thread logo needs to be highly adaptable. It must be legible on a billboard or phone screen, and it must register with customers who speak several languages.
The design may also aim to improve Meta’s damaged public image, said Michael Ifamy, author of “Logo,” an anthology of corporate branding and logos. “New identities, by their very nature, aim to hide the weaknesses or faults of the organization and to highlight a particular set of values,” he said.
Mr. Ifami said the threads logo design looks friendly and non-threatening. Compare it to a piece of spaghetti. “When you see it,” he said, “you forget for a moment who and what is behind it.”
Technology companies have increasingly settled on simple one-line icons to represent their brands. In the Apple App Store, the threads logo is above a TikTok music note, a Snapchat ghost, and a YouTube stock.
The thread logo stretches, and shakes up the ultra-smooth logo trend, says Fons Mans, designer and founder of 10X Designers. “It has a hand feel to it,” he said. “It makes it look more human than those pixel-perfect logos we’ve seen in technology in the last few years.”
Some of the simplistic logos pissed off the designers. When Facebook changed its name to Meta in 2021, it introduced a blue endless icon that drew a muted response for its perceived lack of imagination. “We needed to future-proof the code,” said the Meta design team.
According to Meta, Thread’s logo is realized in Instagram’s sans serif font and is inspired by the @ sign.
The threads’ vibrant, asymmetrical logo might indicate that the designers at Meta are aware of these criticisms. Renato Valdés Olmos, former design director at Lyft, said the Threads logo is noticeably more “frank” than the Meta’s.
“It’s very much a designer logo,” he said. He added that the white-on-black color palette is “gothic,” and its lack of harsh edges suggests the kind of easy-flowing communication the app is trying to facilitate.
Threads is Twitter’s latest contender that points to the platform’s visual identity, represented by a sky blue bird. The alternative social platform Mastodon also chose an animal (albeit an extinct one) as its mascot. And Mastodon and Bluesky, another competitor, are both sprayed blue not too far from Twitter.
The threads logo is a clever nod to a different piece of Twitter iconography, said Ramesh Srinivasan, director of the University of California’s Digital Cultures Lab: the @ symbol, which appears before every Twitter user’s personal handle and has become firmly associated with the platform. .
“It basically says, ‘Hey, we’re Twitter,'” he said. “It’s a clever interface in what it expresses, but I don’t find it visually appealing.”
Several Twitter users have also criticized the logo – comparing it to the number 666 and a lock of pubic hair – perhaps out of loyalty to their favorite platform.
Mr. Valdes Olmos said that logos often evoke intense reactions online because each can be a convenient outlet for a person’s feelings about a brand. “A logo is the first thing you click on, and the first thing you get greeted with,” he said. “And that makes him an easy target for a lot of people.”
Mr. Evamy is confident that the Thread tagline will conquer the online excitement round. He thinks the abstract design might be more durable than Twitter’s blue bird, which is rendered in a pictorial style he said now feels outdated.
“If Twitter were to get going again, they’d probably want something good for their own logo,” he said.