STORIES

Behind Instagram’s brand evolution: Movement, inclusivity and a new purpose

PROCESS
CASE STUDIES
PRODUCT DESIGN
By Cynthia P., Daniel S.
5 min to read
May 23, 2022
A collage shows Instagram’s refreshed brand identity, with the gradient logo in the center, as well as text reading 'Shop the looks;' an @ symbol on a black background; portraits overlaid with the Instagram logo and the words 'Yours to make;' and examples of marketing layouts, billboards, location stickers and the Instagram Sans typeface in Japanese.

SUMMARY

Get the story behind Instagram’s refreshed brand identity from our brand, product and creative teams.


More than 1 billion people use Instagram from Meta to explore, share and push culture forward. Inspired by our global community, we set out to refresh Instagram’s visual identity to reflect our role as a place for people to express themselves. This redesign, which nods to our heritage, puts expression first — paving the way for our continuous evolution.



From the start, our objective was to provide our global community with an immersive and inclusive experience by focusing on accessibility and legibility throughout the design process.






“We approached the design evolution from a spirit of innovation and exploration by assembling a braintrust 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.”



— Cynthia P., Creative Director, Instagram from Meta


Three key objectives guided our work:

    1. Establish a distinct identity with our first custom typeface, inspired by our design foundation and designed in multiple scripts.

    2. Bring more vibrancy with more depth of color to our gradient, designed to feel illuminated rather than one-dimensional.

    3. Create a modular branding system with design applications across multiple types of channels.
  • A custom typeface

    Instagram Sans, which draws inspiration from our logo and wordmark, comes in three styles: Regular, Headline and Condensed.

    “We explored how typography can be a tool for expression and how our new typeface can go beyond letters on a screen. Instagram Sans is inspired by the design of our logo and the script letterforms from our wordmark. The letterforms in Instagram Sans Headline add a human touch, as well as a moment of ownership, joy and surprise.”



    — Daniel S., Creative Director, Instagram from Meta






    Instagram Sans, our new typeface, was rooted in our design foundation, representing our identity both in app and in marketing. We sought to make it distinct, legible and versatile. Created in collaboration with Colophon Foundry and several global type foundries, Instagram Sans is available in three styles: Regular, Headline and Condensed, which our community can use to create in Instagram Stories.



    Giving this tool to millions — if not billions — of people and seeing what they create with it is so amazing. Being able to create a typeface that can represent all of those different people in different ways is such a challenge, but a really rewarding one,” says Edd Harrington of Colophon.



    The typeface draws on distinctive qualities of the Instagram wordmark and logo, which has softly rounded corners that place it somewhere between a circle and a square — a form we call the squircle.” It also incorporates unexpected quirks that give it a human touch, like the design of the “Q,” “@” and use of sheared terminals.



    The typeface was designed to be globally accessible, with multiple global scripts.

    Global scripts

    From the beginning, global accessibility has been a key part of our typeface development process.


    We began with an in-depth audit of our community’s needs to ensure we respected the traditions and cultures behind each script system. Next, we collaborated with over 40 typographers and language experts to produce multiple global scripts. Among them:



    Instagram Sans global scripts include Korean, Arabic and Kannada.

    Korean: Uses proportional styles instead of condensed, keeping local customs and legibility in mind. The script also incorporates strongly defined curves creating geometric design elements.



    Thai: Optimized for short-form copy, and uses a contemporary loopless style. Vowel marks save space, allowing for tighter, more recognizable spacing.



    Arabic: This hybrid Kufic-Naskh script activates the best qualities of both, and maintains optical balance by using a lower body height than Latin script.




    An illuminated gradient

    An example of the refreshed gradient.

    We wanted our updated gradient design to feel lit from within, so we worked with 3D digital artist and motion designer Rose Pilkington on an innovative 3D modeling process. Using this process, Rose created a digital light that can be customized depending on the application, where the gradient is unique every time it’s used.



    “The concept is that the gradient feels like it’s made of light, so it feels illuminated. And it has a kind of a sense of depth to it,” says Rose.




    The gradient is used with purpose throughout the Instagram experience.

    The gradient appears throughout Instagram branding and within the app itself, popping up in features like Create Mode and Instagram Stories rings, as well as in the app icon.




    Layout

    We developed a confident and refined system that highlights the most essential elements of the Instagram app. Layouts now put our community at the forefront, with full-bleed imagery of real people — a reference to the experience of using Instagram. Photography embraces an intimate, imperfect and relatable visual style to reflect the passion and experiences of our community.



    As we put our community at the forefront of the layout, we also considered how we welcome people in. The logo, the anchor of our brand identity, is now featured prominently when someone opens the Instagram app. And in marketing layouts, it's always paired thoughtfully with imagery and type, reinforcing the connection between Instagram and the ability to create.



    Four layouts show the Instagram logo overlaid on three portraits and one photo of a person in a bathtub filled with cereal, with headlines reading, 'I want to build a new normal' and 'Push culture forward.'

    Examples of Instagram logo placement in the app and in marketing.

    A vibrant future

    The evolution of Instagram’s visual identity was rooted in our design foundation — the logo and wordmark that communities around the world see every day. 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. We’re inspired by our community’s sense of exploration — and we can’t wait to see what’s next.








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