Duolingo is one of the most popular language services and the best online learning assistant. The service consists of a website of the same name, a mobile application, and a set of language proficiency tests (exam). It operates on a freemium system, offering a basic package for free and an additional paid package. Its list includes 38 languages of the world, in which nearly 100 courses have been compiled. The founders of the project are Luis von Ahn and Severin Hacker. The head office is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA).
Meaning and History
This service was created at Carnegie Mellon University in 2009 by a professor and his student. Then a group joined the project, which subsequently supported and developed it. Among them were specialists from different fields of activity, so that the language courses were equally well adapted to the Internet space and mobile devices. This thoughtfulness contributed to the quick recognition of the company’s logo and the demand for its products.
Luis von Ahn is from Guatemala. It was difficult for him to adapt to the new linguistic environment, so he thought about many other people’s similar situation. Reflections have turned into a unique project for the study of foreign languages. The work was joined by a student Severin Hacker who came from Zug (Switzerland). He, like his leader, believes that free education will change the world. Hacker is now the company’s CTO.
The pilot launch of the project took place in 2010. And in November 2011, a test version was offered to users. In the early years, a temporary emblem consisting only of the name was used to identify the product. Later, other options appeared with the original talisman – an owl, a symbol of intelligence, wisdom, and knowledge.
When launching the closed beta version, the authors used the project’s name, beating it with several graphic tricks. First, the compound word’s semantic parts are divided by color into two fragments: “duo” – black, “lingo” – gray. Secondly, under the first three letters, there is an arc in the form of a welcoming smile because “d” and “o” look like eyes, and “u” – like a nose. The result is a good-natured emoticon. At the same time, on this basis, a prototype of the talisman appeared.
2011 – 2012
After testing, the language service received an official distribution and a corrected logo. Choosing the same lowercase lettering with rounded letters, the designers changed its palette. They unified the color in favor of green. In this form, the inscription was used until 2019.
The mascot has also changed: the owl also turned green. Also, the logo designers lowered the right-wing, which was depicted in an invitation gesture. Therefore, the bird just froze in anticipation.
2012 – 2013
A year later, the designers modernized the icon and depicted the owl more naturally. They removed the letters “d,” “u,” and “o” that replaced the bird’s beak and eyes, drew a tail for it, lengthened its wings, and added over-eye plumage. The color of the logo’s authors was made with a gradient transition from light green (in the center) to dark green (along the edges).
2013 – 2019
The Duolingo administration decided to redesign the logo to look friendly. For this, the developers used an animation style that turned the owl into a pleasant character. She has depicted her wings spread wide as if she is ready to accept everyone who wants to study foreign languages. Emotions and dynamics are expressed in the eyes’ sparkle, raised “ears,” and in widely spaced legs, like a bird moving forward. By the way, the classic four-toed paws have been replaced with point ones – in the form of two yellow spots of different sizes, according to the location of the first and second plans. The color in the central zone of the logo is light green; along the edges, it is dark green.
2019 – present
In 2019, there was a total transition to another logo, which is radically different from the previous ones. The site’s name, course, and application are executed in streamlined symbols, where there is not a single perfectly straight line or sharp corner. Even the wide “i” and “l” sides are not as straight as they are. The protruding elements of the word “duolingo” have oblique cuts, and the “g” is shaped like an owl with a single feather sticking upon its head. The designers returned the side legs to the letters “u” and “n.”
The bird’s image also changed – it began to convey different emotions, including bewilderment, glee, joy. The bird is depicted either with lowered wings or with raised, with an open or closed beak. Moreover, the developers simplified the icon: the fluff around the eyes became larger, and three miniature semicircles of a light shade appeared on the stomach. The gradient transition has disappeared.
Font and Colors of the Emblem
The designers placed a key emphasis on a light shade of green, using it both for the inscription and for the owl. Her image is also central because this bird personifies wisdom.
The logo is dominated by a grotesque rounded font of two types. Earlier versions used a typeface reminiscent of Torus Bold or Auro Bold, while the current version uses a typeface reminiscent of the Torus Bold or Auro Bold. This is a custom development for Duolingo – patented, not licensed by other brands. Bright green was chosen for its deep symbolism of growth and development. Moreover, different shades are used in the emblems of different years.