November 3, 2022
By: Gareth Mankoo
Colorful, relatable, and nostalgic, the Instagram logo has a fascinating history, which is responsible for its current avatar.
In 2010, the company picked up on the surge of photographs shot on mobile phones, which were finding prominence around the internet. They decided to create a permanent residence for every mobile phone user’s best pictures and add a dash of filters and cool effects.
Over time, Instagram has become an admired brand, which would be impossible without accrediting its logo. Let’s explore the story behind this iconic logo design that has become a benchmark for all modern businesses.
Instagram was launched in October 2010 in the US and became one of the most consumed brands in the world in just twelve years. The name is a portmanteau of “instant” and “telegram,” inspired by the speed at which the Polaroid camera would make images available.
Today, over a billion people use Instagram globally. Half of these are daily active users. The most astonishing statistic is that even with this massive user base, the average time spent by Instagram users (under the age of 25) on the app is 29 minutes a day.
The original Instagram logo was designed in 2010 by one of its founders, Kevin Systrom. The logo drew its inspiration from Polaroid cameras, which could capture and print images within moments. This mnemonic is the only consistent aspect of the logo’s redesigns through a decade of audiences who have grown with the app.
In the first Instagram logo, Systrom simply displayed the frontal shot of a Polaroid camera. It is more of a picture than a logo, to be honest. It had the word “Instagram” inscribed in a tiny font.
One striking characteristic of the 2010 design to be carried on in different logo variations (along with the Polaroid camera) is the rainbow band that runs vertically across the visual. Another element that seems to have stuck is the rounded square shape of the logo. The logo may appear busy and cluttered today, but in 2010, it stood out among other social media icons.
Within just one year, Instagram’s unique filters won users’ hearts. The Instagram logo swiftly found its use across different phones and needed to be professionally designed. Systrom assigned the creation of a new logo to designer and photographer Cole Rise. He captured the essence of the shutter in minimal form.
Rise’s logo drew its inspiration from a 1950s Bell & Howell camera. The beige and brown logo looked more palatable in all sizes. The rainbow strip made it to the top-left corner of the logo, with “INST” inscribed across it in sans-serif. On the top-right corner is the viewfinder, which some may interpret as the front camera since selfies began taking over the internet.
The difference between the second and the third logo is the detailing. The updates looked subtle. An untrained eye would even miss the update if they didn’t look closely. The top portion of the camera got a leathery textured feel, the lens was made more realistic with depth and glare, and the gradients on the logo got more contrast.
The rainbow strip displayed the four primary colors — red, yellow, green, and blue — in distinctly broader strokes. The inscription was now in title case and retained the “Insta” abbreviation but in bold serif.
2016 saw the arrival of the most revolutionary Instagram logo. The designers integrated the three elements from the first logo: the polaroid shutter, the rounded square shape, and the rainbow brand colors. The vibrant colors turned into a gradient and filled the logo up. A bold white dot continued to represent the front camera at the top-right corner.
The internet argued over the logo because of its radical minimalism and abstractness. The logo sported a flatter form and a blue-to-orange-to-pink gradient. The logo completely dropped any typography and instead represented the camera’s form with bold white lines.
The most recent update to the logo saw the lightening of the colors, with no change in the bold lines to represent the camera. The blue color was toned down, while brighter colors like pink and yellow became more noticeable.
Cynthia Pratomo, Creative Director of Instagram, had this to say about the design:
“We approached the design evolution from a spirit of innovation and exploration by assembling a brain trust of global typographers, artists, and creative technologists who’d push our boundaries. Together, we kept the best of the brand while infusing it with new energy and powers of expression.”
The Instagram logo effectively cleared the door for widespread brand recognition. The network has gone through a few logo redesigns in its short existence. All existing Instagram logos pay homage to the network's primary function, which is the sharing of images, by taking inspiration from the form of an instant camera.
But could the famous design be reimagined?
Design similar versions of the Instagram logo below and take them home for free!
Thanks to a few subtle tweaks, we now have not one but two Instagram logo variations to take inspiration from.
The Instagram logo is truly the sum of its parts. Each element of the logo has a story to tell. Let’s look at each factor that vividly defines this beloved social media branding icon that tells us so much with so little.
Looking at the evolution of the Instagram logo, from the cluttered 2010 rendition to the widely accepted 2022 logo, it is evident that minimalism has dominated the design thinking of the brand.
The colors are now more vibrant and add a vivid depth of color through the gradient strokes. The new design also works as a multidimensional application, even though it is flat. The brand could achieve this effect by associating with 3D digital artist and motion designer Rose Pilkington. She used an innovative 3D modeling process to create a digital light that can be customized based on the application of the logo, giving it a unique gradient every time.
Instagram Sans is the font used in the brand’s wordmark. This new typeface has been developed in partnership with Colophon Foundry, an award-winning type foundry based in the UK. The Instagram Sans typeface is available in Regular, Headline, and Condensed forms.
The philosophy behind choosing the font is rooted in the company’s endeavor to make its wordmark legible, distinct, and versatile. The typeface has softly rounded corners (much like the logo shape) and is designed in the squircle, Instagram’s portmanteau of square and circle.
When the Polaroid camera first came out, it stunned users with its magical ability to generate a printed photograph only a few moments after pressing the shutter button. It was also one of the first cameras to be used as a selfie camera since it was portable and could capture moments instantly.
The first logo is a square with rounded corners. It has remained the primary component of every logo design over the years. A logo shape featuring a squircle is less intimidating than one featuring pointed lines because of its roundness and lack of hard corners.
What are some commonly asked questions about the Instagram logo? Get your questions answered with these five FAQs.
Only those who intend to use Instagram assets in broadcast, radio, out-of-home advertising, or print larger than 8.5 x 11 inches (A4 size) must apply for permission. Any requests involving the Instagram logo need to be submitted in English and accompanied by a mockup of the intended use.
You can have complete faith in a logo generator to deliver a fantastic Instagram logo for your brand. Instead of spending time manually putting together each component, you can rely on AI to get a finished product that will perform well on Instagram.
Like many other logos, the Instagram logo has changed slightly over the past decade. There have been three remarkable redesigns of the Instagram logo. The original logo was created in 2010 by co-founder Kevin Systrom.
The focus of Instagram is on images. Instagram's sole purpose is to allow users to share images or videos with their audience, in contrast to Facebook, which relies on both text and pictures, and Twitter, which relies on text only.
Instagram enables instantaneous visual communication between its users. In order to get a glimpse into your favorite celebrity's life, you don't have to sit through hours of videos. Microblogging's rise to prominence has led to the rise in popularity of Instagram Reels as an alternative platform for users to document their daily lives.
This design philosophy of Instagram has inspired the typeface and given the designers at Meta more playroom to express the excitable social media platform in different forms as it changes its focus from photographs to video.
It takes courage to have a brand identity that is in constant motion. The creative minds at Meta have truly exemplified this courage through the Instagram logo. The company’s statement says:
“Our global community is constantly evolving, and so are we. Our refreshed visual system puts expression, inclusion, and creativity first, affirming Instagram’s mission to support the creators and communities who are pushing culture forward.”
Instagram’s journey presents every branding professional and designer with valuable lessons about designing for generations, expressing through minimalism, and staying true to your roots.