For companies like Slack, branding changes are always hard, and people are rarely ecstatic about them. But Slack’s new logo is likely a much bigger deal on social media than the brand could have anticipated; and Twitter, perhaps the most wayward social network of them all, is particularly unimpressed.
Over the last 10 days (January 19 through January 28), I’ve been monitoring Slack’s Twitter mentions in Awario. I’ve been tracking their brand name (++“Slack”, to make sure I only find mentions of Slack with a capital S), their Twitter handle (@SlackHQ), and their hashtag (#slack) in English. Let’s examine some stats on those mentions and take a close look at some of the tweets.
Key themes within Slack’s mentions
The Topic Cloud for tweets mentioning Slack is pretty exciting.
Interesting, huh? Just to remind you - these are the top words and phrases across all mentions of Slack over the last 10 days. The word “logo” is particularly prominent with 2,345 mentions - it’s the second most mentioned word after “Slack” itself, which has been mentioned 2,592 times across the data set.
So people are talking about the new logo alright, but what do they have to say? Let’s take a look at a few words up close.
921 mentions; 15.8% of all tweets
As you probably know, “swastika” is a biggie. Believe it or not, almost 16% of tweets mentioning Slack over the past 10 days contain the word (and a fair share of the remaining 84% contain the image).
I realize most don't even know what @slackHQ is. But 11 million users do. And we have to stare at that logo all day long. At scale, it feels like a swastika. At a distance, on my browser, it suggests the German/Nazi Iron Cross. As a jew, I wonder of the designer knew this? pic.twitter.com/gCShzPgwOP— Shoqqed You're Not (@Shoq) January 19, 2019
I didn’t think of the resemblance myself before I came across the tweets; but now, I have to admit, it’s difficult to unsee it.
Dicks ‘n’ ducks
426 and 70 mentions respectively; 7.3% and 1.2% of all tweets respectively
A part of me feels guilty for putting up a heading like that, but the other part really wants it there. Quite a few people seem to think that Slack’s new logo resembles a bunch of d*cks - the second letter remains debatable.
@SlackHQ While I’m all in favor of giving the ol’ logo a little update, why not go with one that doesn’t look like a bunch of dicks?— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) January 19, 2019
To some, it even looks like a swastika and male genitalia at the same time.
I know people at Slack, and I know they're smart, capable and caring people. But once you hear "swastika made of dicks" it's kind of over for the new logo.— T Carter Baxter (@tbaxter) January 16, 2019
334 mentions; 5.7% of all tweets
Finally, everything Slack’s logo reminds people of is, apparently, very hard to unsee.
A friend told me that the new Slack logo looks like a swastika made of dicks and now I can’t unsee it. pic.twitter.com/3BdPVDxRoW— Imani Gandy (@AngryBlackLady) January 19, 2019
You’ll never unsee this new slack logo refresh pic.twitter.com/2qv2APkLG9— Kyle 🤙 (@DesignByKyle) January 16, 2019
The sentiment behind the tweets
It does feel like people aren’t too thrilled about the new logo, but is the feedback really that negative? Let’s take a look at the tweets’ sentiment.
I have to say I expected to see way more negative mentions. 10 days ago, the negative tweets dominated Slack’s mentions, but now the negativity is slowly dying down.
Indeed, not everyone is skeptical about the logo.
I personally like the new Slack logo/icon by @pentagram — I immediately saw little mobile chat bubbles and got the idea.— ᴠᴀɴ sᴄʜɴᴇɪᴅᴇʀ (@vanschneider) January 17, 2019
Of course, if you're the kind of person who likes to uncover hidden swastikas, you'll find them no matter what.https://t.co/MREZ0bw1XU pic.twitter.com/fDO2HD4E4f
Just to give you some reference, here’s Slack’s sentiment compared to other workplace messenger apps, Telegram and Workplace by Facebook. Slack’s share of negative mentions is almost twice as big as that of either of the two competitors.
That said, Slack’s share of voice (i.e. their volume of mentions) on Twitter is pretty impressive compared to competitors.
What does Slack say?
With the volume of tweets critical of Slack’s new design, it’s hard - and perhaps unnecessary - for the company to reply to every mention. The few replies they did put together indicate they’re sorry that we don’t like it, but the new logo isn’t going anywhere.
We're so sorry that the new logo makes you dizzy. 🙁 We don't have any plans to change the logo at this time, but we'll be sure to share your feedback for future consideration.— Slack (@SlackHQ) January 27, 2019
Overall, Slack’s hope is that the logo will grow on us.
Sorry to hear that it isn't to your taste! We wrote up the reasons for the change here: https://t.co/J68N6RBq70 and we hope that the new logo will grow on you eventually. 💜— Slack (@SlackHQ) January 26, 2019
And I have to admit, it probably will.
Is it Slack or is it us?
The response to Slack’s logo refresh is by no means unique. Remember how Uber changed its logo a few months back? Everyone hated it.
The new uber logo pisses me off 😤— anjalisamazing.com (@achohan97) September 25, 2018
I hope whoever designed the new Uber logo woke up this morning, took a look at their new work and feels ashamed of whatever website they got their graphic designer diploma from.— Tully Smyth (@tee_smyth) September 13, 2018
Back in 2014, AirBnB’s logo redesign caused a similar social media backlash; most of it referencing genitalia, just like with Slack.
Keep confusing the Airbnb tab (almost always open) with my waxing salon. Great new logo, dudes.— Kristen Taylor (@kthread) August 24, 2014
@beach Thanks for trying ;-)— Airbnb (@Airbnb) August 7, 2014
Somehow the new Airbnb logo looks like every single private part I can think of on either gender, all at once. That's actually impressive.— Josh Johnson (@secondfret) July 16, 2014
In 2015, Spotify’s tiny logo update (they only changed the color to a different kind of green) wasn’t very welcome either.
SPOTIFY PLEASE CHANGE THE COLOR OF YOUR LOGO BACK TO THE NORMAL GREEN SINCERELY EVERYONE— carly (@lueeeeek) June 16, 2015
And those are only a few examples. When Snapchat’s logo got a refresh, its users started a change.org petition to bring the old logo back. It got over a million supporters!
When an app you use daily gets a major revamp, users are seldom happy. But stop to think about it: why do we get so pissed off about something so seemingly small? How important can an icon be?
Apparently, the explanation of our reaction to changes like this has nothing to do with our design preferences. We simply don’t like change, particularly when we don’t have a say in that change, particularly when it comes to companies we admire. The logo is the symbol of a brand’s identity, and when it changes, we often expect the brand itself to change as well.
According to this study, the more we identify with a brand, the more negatively we will react should its logo change. In the study, 632 college students were asked to respond to professional logo redesigns for Adidas and New Balance. Students who expressed weak ties to the brands tended to like the update, but those who identified with the brands strongly reacted negatively to the redesigns.
According to the researchers,
“Those with strong brand commitment will see the original brand logo - and the associations - as representing themselves and the integral relationship they have with the brand. They are likely to view a change in the logo, which affects these associations, as threatening their self-brand connections and relationships. Consequently, such consumers will be negatively disposed to the logo change and likely to evaluate the logo negatively.”
With that in mind, the social media’s reaction to Slack’s redesign may mean the opposite of what it seems… It may mean that people actually feel a strong connection with Slack.
What are your thoughts? Is Slack’s new logo really bad, or is it just a phase most brands go through when they refresh their branding? Let me know in the comments!