In the design & build processes when creating a website there are a number of considerations that have to be made, and in this modern world of ‘Social Media’ one of those is now: ‘How & where might it work best to integrate social media’. One of the most obvious solutions to this is to provide an obvious visual link through to the related social media accounts, using an icon, but how can that be made to fit well with the overall design of the site? Therein can lie a problem, & one which can land individuals & small businesses in a spot of bother.
The Facebook & Twitter logos are ubiquitous. You can see them all over the place, so it’s no surprise that many people consider them effectively ‘free to use’. ‘They’re getting free publicity, of course I can just drop it into my site… but it’s a bit garish blue with the yellows of my website so I’ve made it yellow instead’. Erm, well there you invite in legal proceedings from Twitter or Facebook, & I don’t know if you’d noticed but they’re rather big organisations with rather a lot of clout.
Yes, their logos are ‘free to use’ in a sense. They do want the publicity, & for the same reason you may want to use the logo: because as people see it all over the place it’s instantly recognisable as representing their service. But for a similar reason it is supremely important to them that they control ‘it’, that recognisable logo, & not just where it’s used but how it appears. Whether it’s in the colour they want associated with the brand, whether they want it to appear glossy, whether they want the corners to have a soft & approachable roundedness etc.
The Twitter ‘Logo & Brand’ info provides you with quite specific guidance on how you’re allowed to use their logos, & states outright that “by using the Twitter marks you agree to follow the above [display policy] as well as our Terms of Service and all Twitter rules and policies”. Fancy changing the colour of the bird? Sorry, no can do. Want a speech bubble coming from the birds mouth to contain your latest tweet? Nope, sorry not allowed.
In the Facebook Brand Resource Centre you’ll find similar useful guidance on the right ways to use their brand items. Want to use the full word ‘Facebook’ logo? Nu-uh, you’ll need special permission for that. Want to tweet that recognisable ‘Thumb Up’ ‘Like’ button so it reads ‘Like Us On Facebook’. Nope, forbidden I’m afraid, that’s their design & they’re within their rights to control its use.
The first thought of many in response to this will be I’m sure ‘oh come on Geoff, I’m just a teeny tiny little one-person business run from my own home, they’ll not notice & they’ll not much care’. Admittedly there’s every chance that smaller operations wont be spotted in a hurry. Don’t think because you’re not a mega-global-corp you’re invisible to the attentions of their sizeable legal teams though. Developer of a free little WordPress plugin ‘Social Media Widget’ Brian Freytag certainly knows about their legal teams, both Twitter & Facebook applying pressure to get his use of their icons amended.
So when putting a Twitter or Facebook logo into your website do yourself a favour & avoid the temptation to go sprucing it up without checking through brand terms of usage, respecting their design is the least you can do. Besides you WANT the logo to appear exactly how it does elsewhere, what good is making use of their icon anyway if it doesn’t catch the users eye & instantly say ‘Ooh, I can ‘Like’ this page on Facebook?