You’ve seen it. We’ve seen it. Everyone’s seen it.
In Instagram’s own words, it’s a “more modern app icon” that will better “represent the community’s full range of expression.”
Adweek, on the other hand, called it a “travesty.” The Guardian went with “murder.”
If you scroll through the 140,205 comments made (as of this writing) on Instagram’s official announcement upload, you’re going to see a whole lot of poop emojis.
You get the point. The vast majority of the internet is less than thrilled with the sudden retirement of one the most beloved logos in tech.
We’re not here to give you a roundup of snarky tweets or Kid Pix-inspired memes. We actually think “The Great Instagram Logo Freakout of 2016” can teach us a valuable lesson about the interaction between brand and community — one that is especially relevant to leaders who want to have a strong impact on their workplace culture.
Understanding your community is not the same as listening to your community.
Instagram clearly understands their community very well:
“The Instagram community has evolved over the past five years from a place to share filtered photos to so much more — a global community of interests sharing more than 80 million photos and videos every day.”
In striving to create a new logo that better captured the vibrance and diversity of users’ storytelling, did Instagram actually listen to the people telling the stories?
“Anecdotally, we knew that people loved the rainbow and the camera lens was a key visual element. As a part of our process, we also asked people at the company to draw the Instagram icon from memory in 5 seconds. Almost all of them drew the rainbow, lens, and viewfinder.”
Maybe not so much.
Had Instagram solicited verbal feedback from its global community before embarking on a risky rebrand, we think they would have come away with something greater than the understanding that people’s favorite thing about a camera logo was that it had camera parts.
In focusing on the literal elements of the logo, Instagram may have overlooked what made the original logo so unique: an underlying emotional pull that helped millions of otherwise unconnected people around the world coalesce into one of the strongest consumer communities of not just any app, but any brand period.
The original logo was welcoming in its modesty. It drew you into the app like a dusty polaroid in an antique shop invites you to pick it up off the shelf.
The new logo kind of yells at you. It takes the minimalist appeal of flat design and makes it a demand: “Jump on the future train now or be left behind!”
So what does the new Instagram logo tell us about workplace culture?
It reminds us that while there is no universal recipe for a thriving culture, perhaps the most universal trait of any culture worth writing about is inclusiveness.
Cultures prosper when every community member feels like a vital contributor to something bigger than an individual. Cultures stumble when people feel that a shift in direction has been made for them rather than with them.