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Social Icons: You and the Internet Are Using Them Wrong.

Take a moment and check the social icons on your website. Do they match the ones below? Exactly? Probably not.

Social Logos 2013

If you do a search for the social icons, you’ll come up with millions of different versions. Most are pretty cool too, but they are violating the brand guidelines outlined by the individual social network.

Attention to detail. FAIL

So why is the internet ignoring brand guidelines? Why is it that graphic designers, webmasters, and companies in general feel that it’s OK to change someone else’s brand?

Now, I know what you’re thinking, everyone does it. That’s true. From personal blogs to CNN, thousands of sites have their own version of the Twitter, Facebook and other social network logos. But just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean it’s right.

Why is it a big deal? Well, did you know that creating a brand starts at about $1000 for a solopreneur? Enterprises spend upwards of $250,000!*

So what will happen if you violate the brand guidelines? Technically, the social sites have the power to shut down your account, apps, or block any visibility of your content within their sites.

Now, that’s probably not likely to happen, but it is possible. Your free Twitter or Facebook account isn’t actually yours; it’s still the property of the social site you signed up with.

Did you know that you’ve already agreed not to violate the brand guidelines too? It’s buried in that Terms of Service agreement that we all read thoroughly and agree to before signing up for things. You read it. Right?

Facebook TOS

Facebook recently released a great brand guidelines site that makes you agree to how you’re using the logos before giving them to you. It’s a really well done site and proves that they really do care about their brand and their logo use on your site.

If you think it’s no big deal, think about your company; your band. Would you care if someone took your logo, made it orange or wrote your company name in Comic Sans? How sweet would that be?!

Comic Sans Logos

Instead of trying to make social icons match your site, why not make your site work with the official icons? There is still freedom to be creative without re-designing another company’s logo.

All designers, developer, marketers, and decision makers should understand that a brand is not something that should be messed with, and respect the existing brands. Whether that is Twitter’s, Facebook’s, or your own, all brands are important.

We should all be brand police and educate each other. Respect he brand, respect the company.

View the brand guidelines for:

* Numbers via ianvadas

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