Villing & Company

Learning from Instagram's New Logo

Instagram's new logo stinks.

At least that’s what everyone has been saying over the last week since the photo sharing giant made the big change. Adweek chimed in, The New York Times offered their thoughts and so did Inc. Magazine. To say the backlash has been resounding would be an understatement.



To be fair, not all the reaction has been negative. This will undoubtedly blow over, and we will all become used to the new Instagram logo. (Also, if you just can’t go on with the new logo, you can still get the old one on iPhone.) But I think this brings up a healthy conversation about logos and rebranding.

What a coincidence! We’ve already been talking about rebranding here on the Villing Blog. Villing & Company president, Thom Villing, recently discussed the delicate balance of rebranding. His thoughts on the tendency for some organizations to quickly jump at a new logo sounded eerily similar to the Instagram situation.

I think brands can learn from Instagram’s experience over the last week. While their stated goal of creating "a simpler, more consistent design that helps people’s photos and videos shine" is a valid one, it came at the expense of their overall brand. With that, I give you three things to learn from Instagram’s change that can help you as you consider a brand redesign:

  1. Stand by Your Brand – Here, I'll echo Thom again. A logo is not a brand. When making these decisions, make sure you’re always staying in line with your overall brand identity. To me, Instagram’s new logo is confusing because it is so different from the brand I’ve come to know. Some of the colors are pulled from the previous logo, but the gradient is completely new. You don’t want to confuse your followers. Stay on brand.

  2. Ask the Audience – While your brand is a not a democracy, it doesn’t hurt to listen to the thoughts of your followers from time to time. As the head of your organization, the final decision rests with you. But tools like surveys or Twitter polls can allow you to “test” your idea before you decide to do a full rebrand. However, keep in mind that the scope of your test will dictate your level of openness. For instance, if you’re considering a new logo, you probably don’t want the general public to see your prototypes. A survey sent to a select closed audience would make sense. However, if you’re looking to get a better understanding of the public perception of your brand, a Twitter poll could be useful. In the case of the client Thom mentioned in his post, we conducted stakeholder interviews to get a better idea of the overall company brand before continuing with the rebranding project. Running simple “tests” like these will save you from hearing the backlash after the fact.

  3. If It Ain’t Broke… - Instagram’s previous logo was instantly recognizable. It was ingrained into the minds of social media and tech users. Granted, their new logo may eventually be able to achieve the same since Instagram already has a large and loyal following. However, the change has initially been met largely with confusion. If you have a good thing going too, why change it?

Another reason Instagram gave for the change was the fact that their community had grown and changed over the last five years and it needed a new identity. I would argue that the brand identity was a major driver of that growth. In fact, making a change simply because you’ve been growing seems like a great way to stall that growth.

In the end, Thom said it best – stand by your brand. Don’t be lured into making a change just to make a change. Time will tell if Instagram’s move becomes a profitable one. But not every brand is an Instagram. They will probably be able to weather this storm. Negative reaction to a brand redesign could be disastrous for a less-established brand.

It all comes back to strategy. Sometimes, a rebrand is completely called for. In that case, have goals in mind and stick to them. If you keep changes within your overall brand identity and communicate clearly with your team, the rebranding process will become much easier.

Filed Under: Branding, Social Media

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