Twitter finally figures out what Twitter is (maybe)

Expect major #branding changes to attract casual users.

Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Since its inception, Twitter has seemed like a 24/7 global cocktail party; the sort of thing that would appeal to information-addicted media types. But the service has evolved into a platform where news unfolds in real time. It's where the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag and subsequent movement began in 2013, following the shooting of Trayvon Martin. It's where the world turned to follow the Ferguson protests in 2014 -- and even before that, Michael Brown's death was being discussed on Twitter. There's no doubt that the service is a valuable tool for reporting, but how do you sell its benefits to the wider public? That's something Twitter is hoping to solve with a new marketing campaign.

"Starting today, we're taking steps to express what we're for and what we've always been," Twitter's CMO, Leslie Berland, wrote in a blog post today. "Twitter is where you go to see what's happening everywhere in the world right now." That revamped branding starts with two new video ads, which also premiered this morning:

See what's happening:

— Twitter (@twitter) July 25, 2016

See what's happening — politics on Twitter.

— Twitter (@twitter) July 25, 2016

Berland claims the company is now recognized by 90 percent of people around the world (I sure would love to see the specifics of that study), but Twitter also found that many people were confused by what it actually offers. Some thought it was just another social network for connecting with friends, while others felt they were "supposed to Tweet every day," but didn't have that much to contribute.

These two ads are, of course, just a start. But they're the product of a company that's slightly more self-aware of what it actually is. Twitter is a great platform for broadcasting just about anything, but it needs to get better at communicating that fact. It's also shown some signs at making itself a safer space from harassment. Last week, it finally banned one of its most controversial users, conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, after he kicked off a trolling campaign against Ghostbusters' star Leslie Jones.