A few days ago I updated a few of the apps on my phone. I clicked back to my home screen and realised that something was different, something had changed. As I looked at the pinky, purple icon on my home screen, I realised that it was Instagram, and it looked very different!
The whole world (at least the ones who use Instagram) seemed to have noticed the change and the internet has been in uproar! Some love it, some hate it, but no matter what your opinion may be, its fair to say that it definitely put Instagram on the map and got people talking about it! (The app is now trending in the ‘Hot This Week’ section of the app store!)
Image Credit: Instagram
At first I hated the change; “The retro icon was so much better!”, “The whole point is that it looks like an old polaroid camera.” Etc etc. But then I decided to look at it from another perspective – a designer’s perspective, and I realised that actually, this was the perfect move.
When given a design brief, the first thing you need to think about is the target audience. Who am I aiming the design at? What age range are they? What demographic? Are they predominantly male or female? It is only when these questions have been answered that we should start thinking about how something should look. And that is exactly what Instagram have done.
When I started to think about the people who predominantly use Instagram, I realised that the retro camera icon wasn’t necessarily the right thing to use. Instgram’s main user base is young people, mainly females, probably ranging from around 12 to 24. That’s not to say that other people don’t use it, but this is the majority, the people who have made it what it is today. These are people who have been brought up with camera phones and selfies. People who live their lives by taking pictures on their phones and sharing them with friends. These are the people that Instagram really need to target. And as time moves on, the retro Polaroid camera icon becomes more and more obscure to the users.
“Brands, logos and products develop deep connections and associations with people, so you don’t just want to change them for the sake of novelty. But the Instagram icon and design was beginning to feel, well… not reflective of the community, and we thought we could make it better,” Ian Spalter, Instagram’s head of design, shared in his Medium post.
Instagram realised that although the original idea may have been based on retro cameras, using funky filters to emulate the original Polaroid experience, the app is actually quite a modern concept, and the icon needed to represent the modern day audience it needs to attract.
Image Credit: Instagram
The new icon is bright, colourful and incredibly simple, appealing to the young target audience that make up the majority of the apps users. They have also updated their entire suite of app icons to fall in line with the new update.
Not only have they brought the app icon up to date, but they also managed to strike up a whirlwind of internet exposure, leading to more app downloads and thousands of people all over the world talking about the app. They were brave enough to change their identity to not only appeal to their target audience but also gain a huge amount of exposure all over the world! If that’s not clever, I don’t know what is!
When it comes to design, its hard to please everyone. People will always have their own personal opinions about what they like or dislike; whether it’s a logo, a car, or an item of clothing, there will always be lovers and haters when it comes to design. But this doesn’t necessarily need to be a negative thing. Change can be really good for a business, it gets people talking. Often the internet comes across very negative, but this is usually because people only tend to voice negative opinions. The amount of exposure that this attention brings can push a business forward and lead to a wider customer base.
Well done Instagram. Well played!