Transformation Tuesday: Instagram's New Look Revealed
Posted by: Lizzie Healy
Who doesn't love a good transformation story? The anticipation, the big reveal, and finally the emotional, often tearful, response. Last week, Instagram unveiled a fresh version of itself. New and improved, and ready for the world to praise the big transformation. Instead, the new look was met with an onslaught of internet backlash, including harsh memes and GIFs mocking the "update", and pleas for Instagram to return to it's old look. The update to the popular social media app consisted of an overhaul of the apps entire visual experience, with a new colorful icon and simplified black and white UI design. If the reveal had occurred on a reality TV show, the app would most certainty have been voted off the island. But why did people react so poorly? Was it just people's natural inclination to reject change, or did Instagram take a major misstep in their design judgment? We took a closer look at the big transformation to determine exactly why this response occurred and hopefully help you avoid the same negative response when updating your brand's appearance.
Teddy bear brown leather, a rainbow stripe, and a nod to an ancient relic from a humbler time: the traditional camera. It was one of the most instantly recognizable, albeit uniquely intricate logos in tech. Instagram felt the now vintage logo was "not reflective of the community," so they set to work analyzing the successful elements of the original logo and determining a way they could carry those popular elements over to a new and better logo. The goal was a more modern design, and Instagram hoped the brighter, flatter alternative would be a slam dunk.
The now controversial design reflects a more modern aesthetic. It incorporates a simple, flat design that a number of other popular apps already feature (without objection). Reimagining the rainbow stripe from the old logo inspired the 1995 Microsoft PowerPoint gradient. Efforts to transition the logo into a more flexible, scalable icon encouraged the simple white camera outline, vaguely reminiscent of a placemat, plate, and accompanying cup. Instagram also updated the dashboard design to a subdued black and white palette with simple flat buttons to emphasize the content featured on the app. Stripping away the color and noise of the app's UI would allow people's (and advertiser's) content to take the lead as the focal point of the app.
But why was it a flop? While the simple, black and white interface was met with minimal protests, the reveal of the app's new icon spurred outrage. The purple, pink, orange, and yellow gradient that makes up the new abstract logo design is a far cry from the app's traditionally realistic picture of a camera, and many credit this extreme revision as being the cause of the backlash. While numerous app logos feature abstract icons, for the past five years Instagram's literal depiction of a camera has been a staple of your phones landscape. Instagram predicted that the new logo, described by many as an "abomination" and a "travesty," would be met with a dramatic response initially. They argued that how the app aged was a more relevant factor to consider overall. Though I feel this is a logical theory, I have to agree with the angry mob's persecution of the design. While the simple white camera outline is not offensive to me, I take major issue with the Lisa Frank-esque gradient. Take a quick scan of the other icons on your phone, do any of them induce a slight burning feeling in your retinas? Do they evoke memories of your first trip to the nail salon, where you thought, "UGH I can't choose just ONE color, why not get them all?" It's both greedy and lazy. While any major change to an app with this much popularity probably would have been met with some level of rejection, I can't help but think that skipping the neon water color spill and sticking with one distinct, color to brand the app with would have avoided a week of angry tweets and (hilarious) memes. Only time will tell if Instagram gets the last laugh on this one.