New Instagram Logo Is a Snapshot of Changing Technology

June 1, 2016


As a sign of the times, Instagram, the popular photo-sharing app, is dropping its longtime logo that depicted a cartoonish retro camera. In its place is a fuchsia cube that only vaguely suggests a camera.

Robinson Meyer, an associate editor for The Atlantic, says Instagram’s new icon hints at broader ways in which the smartphone era has changed mass-appeal consumer technology.

Cultural and fashion trends also inspire the new logo, as they did the original. When Instagram debuted in 2010, its friendly branding exuded the “delighted optimism of early-2010s tech,” Meyer writes in a May 12 article. The app lets social media users add expressive filters to images and share them online, via their mobile devices. But when it debuted, Instagram also offered nostalgia. Its logo recalled classic Polaroid point-and-shoot cameras of the 1960s, neighborliness and an idealized past. Cool and sleek, the new logo retires Instagram’s retro evocations.

The app’s new interface, also redesigned, eliminates most references to its earlier design, and appears in black and white. Icons for features are now simplified, less overt expressions of the camera metaphor. But the camera has become a smartphone. The “discover” tab no longer resembles a magnifying glass; now it’s a circle with a small line extending from it. The graphics reflect the mobile digital era while still referring to the photographic definition of writing with light. With two circles in a square, Instagram’s new logo represents a lens, a light source and a Web connection. — Greg Beaubien


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