Beyond the Logo: Instagram Goes Flat, Analytic and Algorithmic

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Instagram new logo 2016

The reaction to Instagram “jettisoning its iconic logo” last week was a swift as a like click. It was not liked. Tech reporter Farad Manjoo declared it the loss of the last holdout against flat design. Monday morning quarterback designers offered a slew of alternatives. Even the New York Stock Exchange’s Twitter feed ribbed the brand. For users truly unhinged by the change, one UX designer concocted a way to get the old logo back on your screen.

Instagram’s creative director defended the logo redesign as a change from one that was “not reflective of the community” to one that is “better,” a “more modern app icon that strikes a balance between recognition and versatility.”

What went under-reported was that Instagram’s move is more than a modernization of its app icon. First, the logo change came in combination with the release of Instagram version 8. This new version changes the interface to black and white from color and cleans up Instagram apps Hyperlapse, Layout and Boomerang. The result is a much cleaner look and feel.

But in addition to the new UI, some are speculating the logo was also the turning point for Instagram’s move away from chronologic feeds.

instagram

For brands this move from a chronological feed to one based on a secret proprietary algorithm could have costly disadvantages. Inc. explained the ramifications of the change:

“Displaying pictures algorithmically has a dramatic impact on brands and influencers (who are often the heaviest users of Instagram)—under the old model, for example, someone with a million Instagram followers knew that any image that he or she posted would appear in the feed of every one of the million who was using Instagram at the time. Under the new model, that is no longer the case.”

Inc. speculated that the new logo launch was maybe a “bait and switch” to distract from the feed change but an Instagram representative told the publication that was untrue and that algorithm-based feeds were still only in limited testing. Nonetheless, even Teen Vogue declared the change a thing “We’ve All Been Dreading.” Instagram announced the feed switch back in March (to protest) but had yet to implement it. But Inc. found the newsfeeds in effect already for some.

Writers at lifestyle sites Bustle and Romper also noticed the new Instagram feed inconsistencies. Users have certainly noticed:

instagram feed

But algorithm feeds are coming and brands will likely have an opportunity to reach all of those lost Instagram eyeballs by paying to “boost” pictures just like with Facebook’s timeline boosts. (Instagram is owned by Facebook.)

Paying more for Instagram reach will come with some benefits as Instagram is also rolling out a more robust “Insights” performance analytics. In addition to more details based on post date, Insights will include juicier data on followers including age, location (e.g., by city instead of country), gender and activity by hour, giving brands and marketers a better understanding of their most engaged audience.

Above: Alternative new Instagram logo via.

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