Last year, Instagram changed its skeuomorphic icon branding to a purplish logo and it was only recently that I came across the design process on Fast CoDesign.
Instagram’s Design Head Ian Spalter, guided the branding exercise into a co-creation session. The write-up from the FastCoDesign article mentions…
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.
As a photo-sharing application, Instagram did not have to look further for firsthand insights from end-users, it made complete sense to include the employees in a co-creation exercise to discover their motivations behind the brand. But the challenge didn’t end there because Ian received almost 300 variations of the logo!
“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.
And lastly, on the topic of a redesign, the UI designers did not spend time creating a design language based on the new app icon rather they relied on the native iOS and Android UI standards.