13 May 2016

Fast Company: “An Exclusive Look at Instagram’s new App Icon”

Simple as that seems, it was a high-stakes decision for Instagram, given that this one tiny icon represents so much of company’s identity—not to mention the fact that it has to serve a functional purpose, as a tappable icon for hundreds of millions of people. The team labored over it for nine months. At first, Spalter was most concerned with figuring out what elements people recognized most about the admittedly very complex and highly detailed Instagram logo. So he started by asking the whole company to draw the logo from memory in 10 seconds or less. That gave us a sense of what was burned in, Spalter says. What emerged were the camera lens, the rounded shape of the icon, and, surprisingly, the little black viewfinder in the top right corner.

Of course, the main thing that you’ll notice is the bright rainbow gradient behind the icon—an eye-grabbing detail meant to leap off the home screen, and add gravity to an icon that might be easy to miss if it were duo-tone. As Spalter explains, that’s an echo of perhaps the most beloved part of the old Instagram logo, the rainbow stripes on the top left that used to sit above the “Insta” logo script.

Cliff Kuang

My first reaction while reading this was: ‘there was a rainbow in the old Instagram icon? really?!

Instagram and connected apps logo evolution
How the Instagram main logo and accompanying app logos have changed. Photograph: Instagram

After allegedly working for ‘months’ on this redesign, I feel (along with many, many others) that the team chose one of the poorest alternatives for the new app icon. Don’t get me wrong, the new app design in simple black and white is great, if a little stark, but the icon… I mean, almost every other variation is better: from minor changes proposed on Twitter to the Windows Phone icon (soon to disappear as well) to the black-and-white logo on the desktop website. The other apps on my home screen all have icons based on solid colors; among them, the bright, flashy rainbow gradient (actually more like a sunset theme from old Office presets) sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s so distracting that I moved Instagram from my home screen into a folder and replaced it with another app – probably not the effect they had in mind. Personally I think the icon would look much better with a white background and colored outline – ironically, that’s what Instagram chose for their Twitter avatar and for other apps like Hyperlapse and Boomerang.

The previous one, a retro-looking camera, and one of the most recognisable tech logos out there, has been replaced by a background swirl of sunset colours (orange, yellow, pink, purple) and a white outline of a camera. As if the camera was murdered, and chalk was drawn around its body. Murdered at sundown.

Hannah Jane Parkinson

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