As with any change to a popular brand, there’s plenty of outrage about the new look for Instagram. But people will almost certainly get used to it, and might even learn to love it as much as the old one.
Ian Spalter, Instagram’s head of design, told Co.Design about the change:
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. […]
The most difficult part was once you decide to move on from a beloved icon, how far do you go?” he says. “A lot of the process was figuring what to keep and let go. Are you evolving far enough or not enough, so that you’ll just end up revisiting it in a year?” After months of design work, they spent months more doing qualitative research into whether people could recognize the icon as Instagram, and to see if it evoked the upbeat chumminess of the old icon—a slow, painstaking process meant to root the entire design in a logic that the entire company could grok. “The company had to see that it wasn’t designers working in a corner on whatever they liked,” says Spalter. (It’s telling that the video announcing the new icon is mostly devoted to going through all the discarded icon concepts—a subtle cue to anyone that watches, which says, “Hey, we did a ton of work and this didn’t happen by accident!”)