Instagram made waves last week in the design and social media world by launching their much anticipated brand identity refresh, and UI overhaul to their loyal band of insta-obsessed-followers. The reason for the tech update is to create a better UI experience for users, paring back brand assets once logged into the app, allowing user content to shine, which is one of the fundamental functional objectives of the app.
Ch Ch Ch Chaaanges!
As we know brands are only relevant as long as they can respond to changes within the market, in particular their customer’s habits. Since the app launched in 2010, there’s been multiple upgrades, additional functionality and importantly buyout by social giant, Facebook has meant that they needed to reassess where the brand was at today, and if refinement and repositioning was required. The identity needed to reflect the brand’s diverse and vibrant community and the brand team felt that the traditional polaroid style 3D app icon didn’t reflect community today and was in much need of a refresh. Hmmmm.
Instagram was originally founded as a functional place for people to edit, curate and share their photos, but naturally like many social brands, has organically evolved to become a community, where today over 80 million people and brands globally share images and videos everyday.
All elements of the previous icon have all but disappeared apart from a nod to the rainbow graphic on the old camera, which has evolved into a vibrant gradient that forms a flat one dimensional outline of a camera
Agreeing that the current icon looks more akin to a social networking brand, I can’t help but feel that the icon is now lost on my home screen, blends in with everything else and doesn’t really differentiate itself from the other apps, I feel they are somewhat following the herd. Now we know that people don’t like change, and admittedly, I’m guilty on occasion, but I feel that the brand has lost it’s essence of what attracted me to the app originally, the super8 style retro filters. I don’t feel the new brand represents my latest post below! I loved the vintage camera icon, I’m a vibrant and diverse person, listen to me! You could argue from a brand perspective that the new look represents their diverse digital community more accurately if you consider visual trends that dominate the category today, but it’s just so uninspiring, one dimensional and unoriginal and has almost lost it’s personality in my opinion.
Since the update in the last number of days, there’s been mixed reviews on the icon but a resounding praise of the new UI. With a user base of 80 million they can’t please everybody, and after a couple of days, users will forget all about the old icon. Except me!
Tech brands gotta stay ahead
What is important for a tech / social brand especially one with Instagram’s / Facebook’s influence is you need to drive change, before you become irrelevant, and keep ahead of trends to respond to your audience’s needs. In the past year we’ve seen a number of brands somewhat in their infancy such as Uber and AirBnb undergo rebrands for that very reason, it’s becoming the trend for digital brands to redesign, reposition regularly, especially because challenger brands need to disrupt and reset the status quo. However, at the moment, all of the above brands to me seem to be blending in to one!
Let me know your thoughts on the refresh. Here’s an overview on what’s changed.
Director of brand projects.
Pics courtesy of Instagram