Facebook. Previously The Facebook. You either love it or hate it. End of introduction. If you need further information, there is a movie about it that explains everything. Yesterday, the social media overlord introduced a new logo and, given that I received zero tips about it, no one was made aware of the change. When you log on you will still see the iconic “F” logo — that one doesn’t change — but wherever else the full name is used, you will eventually see a new wordmark designed in collaboration by Facebook’s in-house design team and Eric Olson of Process Type Foundry.
When Facebook’s logo was first created in 2005, the company was just getting started and we wanted the logo to feel grown up and to be taken seriously. Now that we are established, we set out to modernize the logo to make it feel more friendly and approachable. While we explored many directions, ultimately we decided that we only needed an update, and not a full redesign. We worked with Eric Olson — whose typeface Klavika was used in the original logo — and developed a custom typeface to reflect where we are now and where we are headed.
The original logo was designed in 2005 by Joe Kral and Cuban Council using Process Type Foundry’s Klavika as a starting point. The wordmark has become quite iconic, perhaps not to the degree of a Coca-Cola but its tight letterspacing, hard corners, and very subtle variations in thicks and thins, have made it instantly recognizable. This is an even more amazing feat given that the wordmark rarely appears on the site. Yet we all know it. Which is what makes this change so difficult to process.
There are multiple changes that, although perhaps considered subtle by the Facebook team, heavily affect the appearance of the new wordmark. The double-story “a” has been changed to a single-story. The “o”s and “e” are rounder, and the “b” has a more traditional stem. In essence, this is a perfectly acceptable wordmark, a kind of twenty-first-century Franklin Gothic for the millennial generation. It has a great rhythm, it’s perfectly crafted — although the left part of the “e” seems a tad heavy — and it’s very nicely kerned. The problem is that, for lack of a better thought, it does not compute. It’s as if I told you that the following word is colored green. Red, green, wha?… that’s the feeling I get when I see this new wordmark. I know it says “Facebook” but it’s not Facebook.
This is by no means the fault of the execution of the new wordmark but the fact that it’s a visually significant change that tries to keep the same silhouette (and more metaphorically, the aura) of the original but has replaced all the elements with something else. If this had been the original wordmark, then that’s that. It would be Facebook’s logo and we would associate the pronounced connection between the stem and bowl of the “a” and “b” as the distinguishing elements. Right now, we all have to disassociate the last ten years — ten years that have been all about the astronomical surge of the organization — of what we picture when we think of Facebook. And that’s pretty damn hard.
My initial reaction to the logo was something similar to how Kevin McCallister would react. Seeing the change is quite drastic and the gut reaction is to not like it — I’m sure the comments below will reflect that — but given ten years to settle I’m sure we won’t even think twice about it being different. Facebook could have easily kept the Klavika wordmark forever and if consulted for an opinion I would have advised them to keep it — check made payable to UnderConsideration LLC, thanks — as there is nothing wrong with it other than perhaps some internal fatigue with it. The more I look at the new logo the more I don’t-not-dislike-it but, for now, even though it says “Facebook” it’s still not Facebook.