What businesses can learn from Instagram’s rebrand


Instagram’s dramatic rebrand has found lovers and haters.

Whatever your own personal views on the colourful rainbow redesign are, it has certainly highlighted just how sensitive the market is when something familiar becomes a little more unfamiliar.

The risk with sprucing up of an old favourite is it will lose its charm, alter affections, and worst of all, get customers looking for alternatives.

No one is suggesting Instagram is going to suffer significantly following the facelift, but if your business has slightly less than a 400 million strong following, you may want to be careful how you reposition yourself in the creative department.

An update to your design assets is a big decision, and being a bit bored with your look is not a valid reason in itself. When you first setup, you likely made a considerable financial investment in your current brand, so change should be done deliberately and sensibly to avoid a backfire.

Here are a few things to consider if the idea of a business makeover has popped into your mind.

1) Does your branding no longer reflect what you do?

Businesses can develop organically, and quickly grow into something that is quite a way removed from the initial concept. The colours, shapes, and icons in your logo and on your website may now not reflect what the brand has evolved into, and actually detract from your overall messaging.

In the case of Instagram, although predominantly picture focused, it has grown into a wider community of varied interests and personalities. Whereas the retro camera was the key focus of its creative core, the revamped relevance towards the rainbow colouring now, in the company’s own words, “reflects how vibrant and diverse storytelling has become”.

So it is as much about staying true to the product you offer as a company as it is about understanding the audience you are trying to engage with.

2) Has perception of your brand changed?

A shift in public perception may set off alarm bells, but it doesn’t mean you should be panicked into a rebrand.

Even if your company, or the industry as a whole, has hit some tough times, you shouldn’t necessarily immediately change the fundamentals. Familiarity may be the only thing people take comfort in, and you should consider nurturing the remaining relationship to ensure they come across to the new brand.

If you feel you do have to make up for misdemeanours in your business or industry, a new logo isn’t going to be enough. Whatever creative route you chose to take, it has to be supported with wider actions and be seen to be a genuine effort to change perceptions for the positive.

3) Are you losing business to the opposition for no apparent reason?

If you can be confident in your business, certainly in terms of market need, delivery, and pricing, but you’re still losing sales, it could be your branding that is doing you harm.

Targeting the right audience can be a delicate balance between being similar enough to your competitors to be recognised as one of them, and unique enough to draw attention to yourself. Go too far in either direction and you might have a problem drawing the crowds.

Instagram is still a huge presence on the social media scene, and probably doesn’t fear losing out to opposition. However, it has reported slowdowns in engagement and growth, and therefore may have reverted to a redesign of key elements to spark interest.

4) To rebrand or not rebrand?

The main point is to evaluate where you stand, and take time to study major competitors. Design assets are a powerful element of brand perception and a successful rebrand needs a driving purpose behind the move. Once you have a clear understanding of your own company, the market, and your audience, you can identify where your branding may not stack up with the demands.

Identify the value propositions that reinforce your goals and use them as the focus of the message you put out to customers, whether through your logo, website, or advertising.

Kevin Bradford is the content editor at designcrowd.com.au, a website that helps small businesses outsource or ‘crowdsource’ custom graphic, logo and web design from designers around the world.