On May 11, over 400 million users awoke to find a complete rebranding of one of the top social media apps in the world. After five years, Instagram dropped their nostalgic, Bell & Howell-inspired icon, and instead opted for a minimalist design: A white camera outline over a gradient background, said to be an homage to the rainbow that was featured on their previous design. It’s sister apps Layout, Boomerang, and Hyperlapse were also given a similar treatment.
The rebrand isn’t the only change being implemented. Inside the app itself, photos are now posted on a white background, and all text and icons are black. Back in mid-March, they posted a blog announcing an impending update to their system, which would take an algorithmic approach, as opposed to the chronological design they’ve used since their launch in October of 2010. Shortly after this announcement, Instagram then came out to say that they would soon be allowing users to shoot and post longer video clips. When the update allowing users to shoot video was launched in 2013, clips were limited to a 15 second maximum; now, they have the ability to shoot up to 60 seconds.
The design shouldn’t come as too much of a shock, when you know that one of the lead architects, Robert Padbury, was also part of the team responsible for one of the biggest design updates of the last five years. In September of 2013, Apple modified the entire schema of their mobile platform iOS 7 into a flat, modern design, with Padbury and his team at the helm. He was also involved in another major revamping earlier this year, when ride-share giant Uber launched not one, but two redesigned apps: one for riders, one for drivers.
As is typical with any major change to any social media platform, users turned to the Internet to voice their opinions on the rebrand, which were primarily negative. The most typical responses compared the new icon to anything from a washing machine to rainbow sherbet ice cream.
The move has been considered by some to be an attempt to retain their target audience; the popularity of the app has been steadily decreasing with teens, who are turning to its biggest rival, Snapchat. A survey conducted by Piper Jaffray called “Taking Stock With Teens” showed that 28% of teens considered Snapchat their “most important” social network. Though Instagram got 27% of the vote this year, last fall, it was the leader with 33%.
In an interview with Mashable, Cole Rise, the designer of the vintage icon users have associated with the app – not the original design – said he was “super psyched” on the rebranding. “Change can be hard, and people will have to adjust to it, but I think people will love the new stuff once they get used to it on their home screens.”
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