How to Properly Use Social Media Icons

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Social networks have become so popular in our society that most of us are able to identify each network just by looking at their logos. The little blue bird is Twitter, the letter “f” is Facebook, and the retro camera is Instagram.

Our visitors are able to recognize the action behind each social network logo when they find them on the web: sharing the content visited on their profile or follow the author of the content. And for this reason almost every website owner uses them.

The social media logos are a registered trademark, and as such they are protected by legal aspects that you must follow. You can not take the little bird from Twitter and change its color or shape to refer to this social network, nor change the typography of the “f” that represents Facebook.

However, it is easy to find websites that use incorrect logos for social networks. So let’s see where we can find the correct logos for each social network and thus make a legal and responsible use of them.

Guidelines for Making Good Use of Social Media Logos

I don’t think that any popular social network will sue you for misusing their logos, unless you have a very relevant website… and then I’d assume you’d be using them properly. But anyway, doing things right is always better.

Today we’ll show you for each social network the place where you can find its guidelines to avoid problems using their brand.

The Twitter Logo

You’ll find all the information about the Twitter brand and the use you can make of it and its logo on this website.

Some of the rules that Twitter imposes on the use of its logo are the following:

  • Show the logo only in the blue color of Twitter or in white.
  • Do not rotate, alter or modify the logo.
  • Do not animate the logo making it fly, speak or stand.
  • Do not surround the logo with other birds or creatures.
  • Do not add accessories to the logo, such as speech bubbles.
  • Do not anthropomorphize the logo (do not give it human appearance).
  • Do not use the old Twitter logo.

You can download the correct Twitter logos on the same website in different colors and formats (.EPS, .PNG, .PSD, and .SVG).

Further, Twitter provides you with examples of misuse of their logo. They make it very clear what you shouldn’t do, so you don’t do it. Here is a sample:

Examples of misuse of the Twitter logo taken from its brand usage guide.
Examples of misuse of the Twitter logo taken from its brand usage guide.

There are many more restrictions on spacing, the font to use for the word “Twitter,” or the allowed color combinations. The good thing about it is that you will find everything well defined on their guide.

The Facebook Logo

Facebook also has a web page where it provides information about everything related to their brand.

The quick summary is that you should use the Facebook “f” logo with the colors and proportions set by Facebook in their guide. Any modification of this terms is not allowed.

Examples of what you can and cannot do with the Facebook logo.
Examples of what you can and cannot do with the Facebook logo.

As a curiosity, on their page they explicitly explain that you need to ask for permission when you are going to use their logo in advertisements that appear online or on television. But also in books, plays, TV shows, or scripts. Even in printed packaging. We all see Facebook’s logo on these places many times throughout the day. I wonder how many of these have asked Facebook for explicit permission to use their brand. Surely very few did…

The Instagram Logo

Instagram, which belongs to Facebook, also has a web page that defines how you can use their brand. And the thing works much like Facebook, because if you plan to use their brand for ads you must ask them for explicit permission.

As a curiosity, if the logo appears printed in a size smaller than A4, you don’t have to ask for permission. I suppose that they do that to avoid overloading their mail with requests that are unnecessary.

Again, you can’t modify the logo either. And in this case, they are very strict with the separation between the Instagram logo and any other logo that you put next to it. Specifically, you must leave at least half the width of the logo as a separation space:

Instagram forces you to leave a space of a minimum size between your logo and another that you want to put next.
Instagram forces you to leave a space of a minimum size between your logo and another one that you want to put next to it.

Another curiosity you find when reading the cases explained on its website is that you can mention Instagram with Facebook, but not with other social networks. Well, you can do it, but only in case you are saying “follow us on Instagram and [put another social network here].” This is explicitly indicated in their guidelines.

The LinkedIn Logo

LinkedIn also has a website that explains how you can use their brand and where you can download their logo in different formats.

By default you have to use the LinkedIn logo in blue, but you can choose white or black versions depending on whether you use those colors on your website.

In addition, they indicate that the minimum size of the logo is 6.35 mm in print, or 21px on screen, taking the height as a reference. They justify it by saying that on rare occasions smaller sizes may be necessary for printing and that readability is a top priority. You also have to make sure that the ® and ™ symbols are clearly visible in the logo.

The spacing on the LinkedIn logo must have a minimum size relative to the letter "i".
The spacing on the LinkedIn logo must have a minimum size relative to the width of its letter “i”.

As a curiosity, the minimum space you have to leave between the LinkedIn logo and any other must be twice the width of the letter “i” in the official LinkedIn logo. Designers love this kind of things, don’t they?

The Tumblr Logo

All information regarding the use of the Tumblr logo can be found on its own website. There you can download the official Tumblr logo in addition to the versions for iOS or Android.

Tumblr also shares an example on how to use their logo and, in particular, they define the minimum spacing you must use. Interesting, huh? It looks like spacing really matters!

When you use the Tumblr logo you have to keep in mind the minimum separation space you have to leave.
When you use the Tumblr logo you must keep in mind the minimum separation space that you need to leave with the rest of the elements.

You can find the Tumblr brand usage guides here. Everything is explained in detail so that it is clear to you what you can and cannot do.

Something funny I found there is that they tell you not to modify the word Tumblr to create new words, such as “Tumblrize.” Or that you should not use brands similar to Tumblr to not confuse people. For example, using words that take three or more letters of the word “Tumblr” as the name of your product or service can be confusing to some users, such as “Rumblr” or “Tumbroll.”

The Pinterest Logo

The Pinterest logo consists of a white letter “P” inside a red circle. They do not allow you to modify it under any circumstances. In addition, you are forced to always include a call to action next to the logo that leads to your Pinterest profile.

On Pinterest you cannot use the logo next to the name of your organization. You only have to use it with the link to your Pinterest profile.
On Pinterest you cannot use its logo next to the name of your organization. You must only use the logo next to the link of your Pinterest profile.

On the other hand, you can use the phrase “popular on Pinterest” but not the phrase “trending on Pinterest.” I guess they want to take some distance from Twitter, but in the end people will do whatever they want.

Similarly, they don’t let you use the words “Pin” or “Pinterest” in your domain name or in the name of your product or organization. You also don’t have to take it seriously at all, since if you don’t do anything directly related to Pinterest, you’re good to go. The people of Pinturas Andalucia (who have the word “pin” in their domain name) don’t need to worry about it 🤣.

Conclusion

Protecting a brand and its good use is totally lawful. Social networks do it with their own since it is very important for them that these are used correctly.

The logos of social networks are its visible face that you will find in many web pages. For this reason they make so many efforts to protect them and ensure that they look perfectly.

Today we have seen some curious facts about what you can and cannot do with social media brands and logos. Check your page to avoid any possible misuse. As I said before: doing things right doesn’t cost that much.

Featured image by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash.

2 thoughts on “How to Properly Use Social Media Icons

  1. Nicely written Antonio. Many people make these kind of basic mistakes which makes the product/service look un professional. One should always be careful while using logos and design elements properly.

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