The Only Good Brand on TikTok: Duolingo Speaks the Language

Dylan M. Austin
7 min readOct 25, 2021
Various screenshots of Duolingo content on a graphic background — two are humorous exchanges with users who admit they haven’t studied, and one is a social media manager sharing how their mascot, “Duo” has been “unhinged” and concerned her executives. These are referred to in detail in the article below.

Long ago, Taco Bell and Wendy’s were basically the only sassy personality brands speaking in the first person on social media. From disingenuous “pick me” brands to those who are actually very funny, every brand from Kum & Go to Velveeta swoop in on trends and viral threads for engagement in any form, even if it has absolutely nothing to do with their brand or product.

Twitter has sort of been this dark corner where the rogue brand accounts could act up and push boundaries, like attempts at relatability by implying they’re depressed to Chester Cheetah dropping a diss track on Doritos for some reason. Meanwhile, these same companies’ Instagram and Facebook counterparts maintain a mostly polished aesthetic and stay on topic.

The brands that do this well are often the product of a single social media manager whose individual personality, cultural immersion, and quick wit represent entire corporations. Look to Tushy and MTV, for instance, whose voices demonstrate that the gays are superior at crafting brand voices, a necessary discussion for another time.

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Dylan M. Austin

Copy and content writer in Seattle. Sometimes satirical, sometimes sincere. Run-on mixed metaphor. Gay, autistic dog dad with ADHD (and too many plants).