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The True Meaning of TikTok Logo: It's Not a Musical Note

Alessio enjoys writing about cell phones, apps, and other technology and the way they can help making everyday life easier.

TikTok has achieved to become one of the most popular social networks in a relatively short time. The app is known as a place where to share short videos with a musical background. These videos typical involve short dances, challenges and trends (usually brands and influencers try do to something new for the first time, then their video becomes viral and other people try to do the same), but there is also space for information, food recipes and educational videos, despite the common belief that sees the app mostly as an entertainment for teenagers. TikTok is at all effects a social network which can be used for different purposes, even if it is clear that it is particularly oriented to entertaining people. What is less clear to the majority of TikTok users is the meaning of its logo.

TikTok Logo

TikTok Logo

The common belief about TikTok logo is that it represents merely a musical note. This general idea is not only popular because of the shape of the logo, which is effectively looking like a musical note, but also for several reasons that make people tend to think at this primarily:

  • TikTok is all about short videos, but this description would be too simplistic: also background music is a very important element that completes the whole social networking experience offered by this app;
  • Before TikTok, there was another popular social network that was meant to offer a similar way of sharing and watching short videos with music: Musical.ly, which was then purchased by the creators of TikTok and merged with the app, so that TikTok users coming from Musical.ly have already this idea of a place where music plays a key role in the whole experience;
  • Many people know TikTok more for its entertaining side, made especially of people dancing on short pieces of music, rather than for its educational part, just like a social network like LinkedIn is mostly used by entrepreneurs and people seeking jobs, even if it would surely feature also some people who use it for non professional purposes: social media are universal, still there is a part of them that eventually becomes more mainstream than others. In the case of TikTok, entertaining videos of people dancing have become the symbol par excellence of the app, so it may be perfectly normal to imagine a musical note as the logo for TikTok.

The Reality Behind TikTok Logo: Why It Is Not a Musical Note

Despite all the valid reasons why most people are inclined to associate TikTok logo to a musical note, there is a different reality behind the true meaning of the symbol that millions of people see everyday before starting to scroll among several short videos. The first premise is that TikTok logo is not a musical note or, to be more specific, it can be seen as such, still this is not the primary meaning of the logo. TikTok logo is an example of symbol that features two meanings, just like Amazon logo (the orange arrow may be interpreted as a smile, but it is primarily meant to connect the A and the Z of Amazon name, in order to highlight the fact the e-commerce sells every kind of product) or the Italian 'Ferrovie dello Stato' national railway company logo, which can be seen as the initials of the company name ('FS'), but can also be seen as a stylized part of a running train, due to their particular inclination. Another example of logo with double meaning is the one chosen for the new holding of Facebook, Meta, which is a blue 'M' letter that is shaped in a way it can be also seen as a stylized VR device, something that is logic, due to the particular interest of the company in the virtual reality and in the so called 'Metaverse'. TikTok logo is not different: it can be seen as a musical note, still this figure is secondaryy, while the primary meaning is not the one most people believe.

An Italian train showing the 'FS' logo

An Italian train showing the 'FS' logo

TikTok Logo Represents the True Origins of the App

Most people believe TikTok is a revamp of Musical.ly. The reality is that TikTok has existed even before its release to the general public and content of Musical.ly has been simply exported and imported into an app which was already existing. To be more specific, TikTok was existing in China long way before its arrival to the international market outside the Asian country. The company behind the popular short videos app has then managed to create a separate service for people outside China, with a different database too, but the app is still the same, maybe with some little differences due to the fact different teams keep updated both the international and the Chinese app: anyway, the TikTok service people use everyday is something that was already existing and florid in its home country. This premise is important in order to uncover the true origin of the logo: it's a 'D' letter. In fact, TikTok is simply the international name that was chosen for the app when it was launched outside China, while the service in China is known as 'Douyin', which means 'vibrating sound'.

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In conclusion, the real meaning of TikTok logo is the 'D' letter of 'Douyin', which is the original name of the app. While most people believe TikTok is the effective name of the service, the fact is that it is simply the one chosen for doing business outside China. Many international companies may use different names in different countries: for example Coca Cola and Coke. Knowing TikTok original name is the key to understand the real meaning of a logo which is famous worldwide, still not understood completely: a logo which has a double meaning, related both to the original name of the service and to the key role of music among content featured here.

© 2022 Alessio Ganci

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