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Remember Foursquare? It Has a New Logo


Courtesy Foursquare

In an effort to remind people that it exists, Foursquare unveiled its new logo today.

The bright-pink “F” flag signals big changes. Foursquare is no longer the domain of check-ins and mayors: It is a search app. Earlier in the year, the company found that only about 5 percent of people used the app for both checking in and search. So, in May, it broke the app into two: Foursquare became dedicated to delivering location-based Yelp-style recommendations (the first iteration had a small search bar at the top), and a new app, called Swarm, would let users announce their whereabouts and find friends.

The new logo is aimed at clearing up that confusion. It at once underscores Foursquare’s rebirth as a search-based tool and broadcasts a further reinvention: In about two weeks, the app will start delivering results based on your proclivities, such as eating lobster rolls at an outdoor table. The app was in dire need of an upgrade; its average rating on the App Store (AAPL) has dropped to 1.5 stars, with users’ complaints bemoaning the loss of their beloved check-in feature.

New App Venue Pages (with and without Swarm installed)Courtesy FoursquareNew App Venue Pages (with and without Swarm installed)

“Every place you go now when you do a search by location, you get the exact same list as everyone else,” says Jon Steinback, Foursquare’s vice president for product experience. “Why should you and your dad get the same bar recommendations?” Instead of searching for an Irish pub (dad’s choice), you can narrow your quest for a watering hole with such terms as “trendy” or “romantic.” Recommendations are made based on your tastes, previous tips (public reviews of places), and the check-ins of Foursquare’s other 50 million users.

The new logo is the work of Red Antler, a Brooklyn (N.Y.) branding firm that also designed the bee-themed identity for Swarm. The simpler, watermelon-colored “F” is meant to be a visual mashup between a map pin you’d find on Google Maps with a superhero emblem, because Chief Executive Dennis Crowley likes to think of the app as conferring superpowers. By all counts, it’s an improvement from the old, literal-minded symbol—a white check mark hitting a green golfball against a blue square. The new sans serif word mark is also more authoritative, bold, and mature.

If you’re one of the 5 percent of users who use both Swarm and Foursquare, you’re still in luck. The new version will allow you to toggle between the two, much as you can switch from Facebook (FB) and its messaging app, Steinback says. So if you’re on Foursquare looking for the best dishes at a Vietnamese restaurant in Queens, you’ll be able to check in to let your Brooklyn friends know you’ve left the borough.

Lanks is the design editor of Businessweek.com.

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