A New Identity And What We Can Learn From Instagram


People don’t like change. We’re programmed not to. Look at the world’s reactions to the Uber and Instagram rebrands.  To some, it was as if the sky had fallen, and the backlash has been swift and merciless. Veronica Botes, managing partner at Designvow, gives us her insight into this. 

In the 1920s, H.P. Lovecraft said, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”.  We don’t like new things… they scare and challenge us.

For example, videos reacting to the new Instagram logo had started making the rounds a mere day after the big logo reveal (though some of them are truly hysterical), and they demonstrate how annoyed people become when you mess with the things they love. One programmer has even managed to develop software which will bring the old logo back, just in case the new one becomes too much of a shock.

**Please be aware that this video may contain sensitive language.

But why the extreme reaction? Much like getting a nasty fright when someone jumps out from behind a door, I believe that people don’t like surprises. Yes, we have all fantasised about a surprise birthday party but that is as far as the “surprise fantasy” usually goes… in general – we don’t like them.

Secondly, when your business is a tool, people start feeling like it belongs to them, like it’s a part of them. “What have you done to my Instagram?!” the cry rang. It is because as much as Instagram is owned by Facebook, it’s actually “owned” by its users. An ideal position for any brand to be in – if they had managed the process carefully and made sure that their users were poised for the change and had bought into the brand idea.

On a side note, be sure to read about the Joburg platform’s brand revamp here, and just so you know – they’re more than happy to tell you about it.

Anyway, back to Instagram. Overnight, it had a new icon and no one told us about it. It just appeared. “BOO”! It simply jumped out from behind the door and scared us half to death.

The trick with change is to manage it. Yes, Instagram has given us a little video but best put by Sam Becker, the Creative Director of the Brand Union US, “This is a confident redesign but potentially a missed opportunity.”

“It’s quite telling that the launch video seems more about convincing people that this was a rigorous undertaking rather than communicating a strong, differentiating idea that elevates the brand and connects to their past. No doubt, this is a visual system that’s more practical, usable and modern. It will serve them well, but it could have been so much more.”

Our New Identity And What We Can Learn From Instagram

I agree with Becker and would like to add to his statement that it was a missed opportunity in terms of engaging with users, and getting their buy-in and allowing them to process the change in their beloved Instagram.  It was a missed opportunity because instead of preparing users for the change – it was sprung on us overnight.  The strong differentiating idea is touched upon but was never aggressively articulated to users, to take them along on the journey – either before or after the change took place.

A big reveal within a prepared context will always be more successful than one, which is sprung on us overnight.

So, in the face of a world that expects ever-refreshing and constantly revitalised brands and visual styles, how does one remain fresh, in touch whilst taking people on a journey with, hopefully, minimal fall-out?

Watch this space and see!

By Veronica Botes

Designvow specialises in exceptional creative projects – their latest projects include solving interesting challenges for Investec, developing new brands for Sorbet and creating arresting art for Clientele Limited.  

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