Okay so enough time has passed for emotions to settle around Instagram’s shiny new symbol, I feel like it’s safe for me to talk about it. Like most application refreshes, initially it unsettles users – Facebook refresh circa 2013, anyone?: “What is this new symbol?…Bring back the old look and feel, I hate this new layout”, so much so in this case that users can actual revert back to the old instagram logo – creatures of habit and all that. But whether you’re a fan or not, Instagram undeniably has a concept, and they stick to it. The camera within the icon is actually still a retro camera but with a rainbow hue gradient. I personally love it.
Once you start to look at the symbolism of logos or app icons, you suddenly start to see all the social media icons on your phone in a different way. And when you start trying to figure out what the story is behind each of those symbols, your whole perspective on what successful branding is expands.
Let’s start with Twitter. Okay, so it’s a bird that actually tweets. Gotcha, pretty straight-forward. Concept and story. Great stuff. Now let’s have a look at Pinterest, did you notice that the P is actually a pin? I’m a massive fan of this symbol. There you go again: concept. YouTube also changed its icon back in 2013 to a pared down ‘play’ symbol, recognisable by users as the common icon in all videos. Nice evolution. That older version with the words You and Tube was pretty difficult to use. Well done on the simplification guys!
So then you go and check the big one, Facebook – still paving the way with the most active users of all social media sites, and regarded as strategically important to 42% of marketers. ‘The most popular one’, and there it is: ‘F’. An ‘F’ in a rounded square. wtF?
As a designer I’m always looking for ways to achieve a more simplified and impactful version of everything put in front of me. Facebook, one of the world’s and the marketing community’s biggest social media behemoths is a brand where I dream of weaving in a little more concept and story in to their branding. The ‘friends’ campaign is a really good example of strong concept and execution. I love the creative behind that campaign, but wouldn’t it be great if that same theme were reflected throughout the brand.
Of course it would be extremely difficult to create a brand from scratch. Bearing in mind all that’s come before from a branding perspective with Facebook. However, seeing the ‘others’: Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, there’s no need for a super deep concept to create a symbol. So wouldn’t it be awesome if Facebook used a face in a book? I’ve even gone to the trouble of imagining what this would look like. What do you think?
Regardless of whether you’re a fan of Facebook’s current symbol or not you’ve got to hand it to the brand, there’s consistency, and the social media goliath manages to stick to their branded visuals.