Markon Reacts To Facebook's Wordmark Change


There is a lot of buzz around the web today about Facebook's wordmark change. What is a wordmark, you ask? A wordmark is a brand's text-only logo. Text-only logo's have been important since the dawn of business. Every brand needs one in our humble opinion. 

So..what changed?

The font, to start. 

But, it's never as simple as changing a font. What does the new look communicate? 

As brand gurus who design logos all the time, we had thoughts:  

For some of us, the old font, with the serifed "a" that connected to the "f" symbolized connectivity. To others, the now deposed wordmark had become iconic. As the change will only be noticed when the wordmark is present (very rare for the continuously signed on user), we have to wonder how negligible the change is for the average user. 

Kristine, our Lead Designer, had more pointed words:

There's two schools of thought on making logo updates, one says make subtle tweaks that don't disrupt your core audience while attempting to attract new clients/users. The second says if you're going to make a change, make it big and make it worth it. 

I would say FB failed on both parts.

First of all, is there a human in the developed world that DOESN'T have Facebook? Who, really, are we trying to attract here? Facebook says the change, though subtle, is meant to evoke a more "friendly" and "approachable" feeling. Um, ok. The strange part is that apparently the icon that is used (just the "f" that everyone recognizes) is not changing. So not many people won't even have the opportunity to see this new "friendlier" Facebook. They're just seeing the same old f. 

That being said, let's pretend that it was something that everyone saw. From a design perspective, is it really friendlier? More approachable? Say I had been living under a rock and didn't have FB. Would I be more likely to sign up. To me, the answer is no. 

Take a look at the old logo. The crossbar on the "f" flows so nicely into the top of the "a". It says "come... let's connect". Which is the purpose of FB, right? The weight of each letter feels consistent. The angled tops on the "b" and the "k" feel like they are pointing forward. (Leaning in??)

The new logo not only feels inconsistent (why does the "a" have a bulbous growth on the left side while the "o"s stay perfectly round?) but disjointed. Replacing the flowing "a" in the old logo with a stodgy sans serif one in the new logo creates total weirdness. I now see a letter "r" formed by the right stroke on the "a", which when paired with the curve of the new "c" next to it forces me to read the wordmark as "farcebook". That's not friendly! ;) 

Design aside, I have to wonder why facebook wouldn't make a big change if it was going to make one at all? Seeing as the subtle tweaks will probably do nothing to achieve their goals, why not do something big that would get noticed? I would argue that making small tweaks to your logo is a great thing -- either to show that you're current or to relate to your core demographic better or even just to attract some new attention.

But in this case, we've found the answer to the age old question of if a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? And I'm never a proponent of doing something that doesn't get noticed. The effort to chop the tree down is only worth it if you can make real big bang. Facebook should have brought in the big guns or done nothing at all.