Welcome to Behind the Logo*, a series that unpacks the history and design decisions behind some of the world’s most recognized logos. After you learn a thing or two, use Shopify's free logo maker to create something iconic of your own.
TikTok** boasts over one billion users, proving how wildly popular the short-form video app has become in just a few years. TikTok has become a go-to destination for what’s trending in fashion and beyond, and viral TikTok videos have propelled creators into stardom overnight.
Launched in 2016, TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social networks, and its colorful music-note-shaped logo is instantly recognizable the world over.
This iconic logo has remained mostly the same since its inception, with just a few adjustments along the way. Let’s take a look at the history of and the meaning behind the TikTok logo, as well as why it works so well for the brand.
The history of the TikTok logo
The story of TikTok began in 2016, when Chinese company ByteDance launched an app called A.me that allowed users to create and share short videos. It was renamed Douyin (抖音) three months later.
In 2017, ByteDance began expanding Douyin outside of China, under the name TikTok. Later that year, ByteDance acquired Musical.ly, a similar short-form video app based in Shanghai, with a US office in Santa Monica, California. Musical.ly let users record lip-syncing videos, and it had an established user base in the United States. ByteDace folded some of Musical.ly’s features into TikTok and used the acquisition to expand the app’s reach to include the US.
During this time, the Douyin logo remained much the same. Created by an unnamed designer, the original logo started off as a simple “d” shape that resembled a musical note.
Depending on the context, the logo was either black on a white background or white on a black background, with accent colors cyan and fuchsia adding the illusion of movement.
In 2017, when ByteDance launched TikTok globally, the company decided to add the app’s name to the logo. Originally, the app name was two separate words: Tik Tok.
The font used for the app’s name originally was a basic sans serif with squared-off corners. In 2018, the brand revisited the font and created the TikTok wordmark that remains in use today. This version of the wordmark is more aesthetically connected to the glyph, with a similar cyan and fuchsia effect on the “o.” This is how the TikTok logo looks today:
Many large companies undergo relatively large rebrands as they gain initial success (consider the evolution of Instagram’s logo), but the designers behind the TikTok logo understand they don’t need to fix what isn’t broken—the logo has been working well for them from the beginning.
Examining the meaning behind the TikTok logo
Many social media companies utilize big-name design agencies to develop their brands, but ByteDance had other plans for their app. The genius behind the TikTok logo is actually an unnamed designer. TikTok shared that a young man who loves concerts and rock music created the logo to honor the virtual stage that the platform provides for its creators.
The designer was inspired by the contrast between the darkness of an arena and the lights on the stage—hence, the black core and bright color palettes surrounding the central music note. Furthermore, “Douyin” translates to “shaking sound” or “shaking music,” which is visually illustrated in the logo design. The musical note was also made to look like a lowercase “d” to evoke the romanized name of the app.
Why the TikTok logo works
What is it about the TikTok logo that works so well? And how did an amateur designer create something that has helped the brand elevate its reach exponentially? Let’s talk psychological design and color theory. The TikTok logo embraces the bold clarity of black and white, using cyan and fuchsia as accents.
These eye-catching colors around the periphery of the logo create a sense of dynamism, and they suggest depth by evoking anaglyph 3D images (although the logo itself is not designed to be viewed with 3D glasses).
The TikTok logo is distinctive, and it sparks curiosity: its shape is reminiscent of a musical note, its color scheme suggests a concert stage, and its clean edges and crisp font bring a sense of immediacy.
Having a logo that people want to talk about works wonders for brand awareness and reach. It’s part of building a solid brand that helps elevate a company and reach even more users or customers.
As the TikTok logo has remained largely the same over the years, it’s instantly recognizable to TikTok users. TikTok created sticky brand recognition with this design decision.
Get inspired by the TikTok logo design: create your own
Love learning about the TikTok logo and want to make your own splash? Learn how to design a logo that’s going to grab attention and help propel your company to international fame. Or, you can easily get started with our logo maker.
*Behind the logo is an independent educational publication produced by Shopify Inc. on the world’s most recognized logos. The publication is not sponsored or otherwise affiliated with the owners of the featured logos, nor were the featured logos developed in connection with Shopify.
**The TikTok name and logo featured herein are trademarks owned by TikTok Inc. and/or its affiliates. For more information, please visit www.tiktok.com
TikTok logo FAQ
What is the TikTok logo based on?
TikTok is known as Douyin in China, and the TikTok logo is meant to resemble both a musical note and a lowercase letter D. The bright color palettes surrounding the logo are reminiscent of arena lights focused on a subject onstage and also represent the digital stage that the platform offers its creators.
Who made the TikTok logo?
The TikTok logo design was created by an unnamed designer who is said by TikTok to have been inspired by a concert he attended before being brought on to design the logo. The company has evolved the logo only slightly from the original TikTok logo created by this designer.
When did the TikTok logo first appear?
The TikTok logo first appeared in 2016. The TikTok logo design is a musical note shape, since the app allows TikTok users to create short, entertaining videos. After its inception in 2016, the logo underwent only a few minor design tweaks here and there. While the emblem remains the same, the text has changed slightly.
What is the TikTok font?
Alongside the TikTok logo, other design decisions help make the app recognizable to users. This includes fonts, also known as typefaces. TikTok uses two typefaces: Sofia Pro (which is bolder and used in headlines) and Proxima Nova (which is used for longer paragraphs).