I am pretty sure everybody here knows what YouTube is: a cat-video discovery engine founded in 2005 by three former employees of PayPal and purchased for 1.65 billion
cats dollars by Google. Some other facts that would make Grumpy cat smile: More than 1 billion unique visits a month, over 6 billion hours of video watched each month, and 100 hours of video are uploaded every minute. Yet with all those people paying attention, YouTube hasn’t formally acknowledged a new logo that they have introduced on their Facebook page (76 million likes) and their Twitter page (32 million followers) but not on their main website. I rarely post a logo change without official confirmation but I am thinking that this is a full-on change in the making.
Update Aug. 30: The Verge received confirmation from YouTube that it is NOT changing its logo. “Our main logo is a core part of YouTube and is not going away. We are increasingly using our play button for apps and icons.” So, instead of going with a single, nicer logo they are just going to create confusion. That makes sense.
I’ve never been a fan of the YouTube logo. It’s fine and much less annoying than most of the start-ups that went on to dominate the internet (i.e., PayPal, eBay, Google, etc.) so I have no qualms in seeing it go away. In exchange, they are establishing their big play button inside its own recognizable shape as the main identifier for YouTube, which is a perfect strategy since every time you watch a YouTube video it’s the first thing you see. It’s similar to Twitter going with the blue bird.
The minimal shading inside the play button might feel familiar to those who went through the Google Visual Assets Guidelines I posted in June that showcase Google’s commitment to visual simplicity and sophistication — this new YouTube logo and the pattern fall exactly within this aesthetic. It’s what a lot of people are calling the “Flat” trend — I call it the “Let’s Drop the Bullshit Volumizing and Do a Good Logo” trend, but I guess it’s just a matter of semantics — and it feels nice to have more and more visual simplicity on the web. The typography is unassuming and appropriately playing a supporting role. I do wish someone closed up the kerning on both sides of the “T” and on the “Y” before Maru uses them as tunnels to jump through but it’s a perfectly acceptable wordmark. Overall, Google and YouTube seem to be going in the right direction and I’ll take this new logo over the old one any day of the week.
Thanks to Kurt Luther for the tip.