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May 2016
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You may have heard—or noticed—that the beloved and wildly popular photo app Instagram recently unveiled a major overhaul of its brand, including a new logo. You may have also heard that a lot of Instagrammers were not happy with the new look and wanted the old one back RIGHT. THIS. MINUTE. Unfortunately, such anger may be revealing an inconvenient truth about those who are angry – and the fluid nature of social networks.

The truth hurts sometimes, but here it is: If you really don’t like Instagram’s new logo and branding, odds are you are no longer part of its target audience. It’s nothing personal, of course; it’s just a natural reflection of how social networks adapt and shift over time to grow audience and maintain relevancy.

Instagram, as it so happens, is a perfect example of this. When it first started, and throughout its first several years, its original logo—a retro camera image reminiscent of an old Polaroid camera—captured what the site was about to the majority of its users: an app that turned regular iPhone photos into retro-looking, highly stylized images.


Over the past few years, however, Instagram has seen a sustained, significant shift in the audience that constitutes its heaviest and most active users. That audience became much younger and much less interested in retro filters. Instead, they see Instagram as, you know, a social network—a non-Facebook, non-Twitter place where they connect with friends and peers in a format that doesn’t require a bunch of those pesky words.

Instagram realized this shift a while back and saw its old branding as one that doesn’t necessarily speak or appeal to this younger, newer core audience. So it overhauled it to something that better resonates with that group—and left us old-fashioned retro-lovers to stew in our own rage. Until it’s time to share a pic of our next meal, of course.