A Brief History of the Instagram Symbol

An app’s logo can tell a lot about what the app can do. It should stand out on your iPhone so you know exactly what it is and that you won’t confuse it with any other app. The Instagram symbol is no different.

Instagram is one of the most iconic logos. As soon as you sport it, you’ll recognize it.

However, the logo has changed as much as three times! Regardless, people still continue to recognize all the app’s past logos because of its popularity.

The Instagram Symbol

If you’ve had an Instagram account for over a few years, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced a few changes with the Instagram symbol. With occasional app updates, Instagram has changed the way the app logo or symbol looks over time. 

Remember this? It’s seems like so long ago when the app’s logo looked like this:

original instagram logo and font

Keep reading to take a journey back in time (well, only about ten years) to see the evolution of Instagram’s beloved symbol. We’ll also dive into a discussion about whether or not the Instagram symbol is getting better or worse over time.

May 2016-Present: The modern, most simple looking symbol

May 11, 2016 was a day that changed social media history. Initially, the response to the new Instagram symbol didn’t go over too well. People were shocked. Grieving. They missed the old logo that would never be seen on their phones again.

…Fast forward to our current status, and we all seem to be coping well with Instagram. Just goes to show that app updates are nothing to stress over.

Check out This article: 5 Signs You Have an Instagram Addiction

There were many changes that came along with this particular Instagram update. Besides the symbol change, we also saw that posts were no longer listed in chronological order (making everyone go nuts and telling their followers to TURN ON NOTIFICATIONS!).

What the Current Instagram Symbol Looks Like

This symbol is the most different out of all of the past symbols. The debut of this symbol completely changed Instagram’s look.

The current symbol is a super modern and simple design. However, the use of warm colors made into an ombre effect makes for a unique look. Because of this, users will never confuse this symbol with another app’s symbol.

instagram font and logo

This was the rise of minimalism.

Why did so many people freak out about this change of symbols? Major app updates seem to be infamous for getting backlash. For example, There was such an uproar when Instagram introduced stories.

“Instagram is copying Snapchat,” many people would complain.

The truth is, time has gone by and people get used to app updates. In fact, users love Instagram stories. And to be honset, the symbol is pretty cool too.

However, its 2018 and there’s no one really complaining about the symbol anymore. Looks like we’ve just gotten used to it. But honestly, do we even remember a time before this modern-looking Instagram symbol?

2010-May 2016: The hipster, detailed, forever beloved symbol

This Instagram symbol brings back memories of the popular Instagram trends of the given time period: #selfiesunday, #ootd, #likeforlike and #caturday. This was the era of over-hashtagging and heavily filtered photos.


This symbol was so iconic that many people still remember this symbol when they think of Instagram.

original instagram logo and font

What the Former Instagram Symbol Looks Like

This symbol resembles a polaroid, giving it a slightly vintage, artsy feel.

Unlike the current Instagram symbol which features purple, orange and pink tones, this symbol has a much different look.

It has mainly neutral colors, besides the rainbow stripe on the top left corner. The word ‘insta’ is written below it.

There was extreme detail and focus put into the making of this symbol. Look closely at the textured brown bar at the top.  Look at the circular reflection in the lens. It’s extremely intricate and detailed.

Beginning of Instagram time-2010: The forgotten, yet actually coolest Instagram symbol yet.

Instagram's oldest symbol
Instagram’s oldest symbol, found on logos.wikia.com.

This symbol was the first one to exist on Instagram, when the social media platform was a much simpler place. This was way before ‘Instagram models’ were a thing. People were simply just posting their unedited, real photos to a short list of friends.

The real question is, why doesn’t the company still use this design? It’s just so cool. If we thought the previous symbol mentioned was vintage, this one is on a whole new level.

What the First Instagram Symbol Looks Like

This symbol is just straight up vintage. It’s the complete opposite of the modern symbol we have today. It’s cool, original, and unlike any other app’s logo. The symbol features an off-white polaroid camera with a rainbow stripe in the middle.

Who’s going to make a petition to bring back this Instagram symbol?

The Instagram Symbol is Getting…Worse.

That’s a big statement. It also brings up the question of what is better for an app – a simple or a complex design? What kind of design do people tend to gravitate towards when looking at their phones?

The current design is really modern and simple…but it’s nothing like the original. Although some people might like the current Instagram symbol, each iteration just gets further and further away from what Instagram really means.

What Does Instagram Really Mean?

The name Instagram comes from the words ‘instant’ and ‘telegram.’ The purpose of Instagram is to share instant photos with friends, just like back in the day when people would share polaroids and written messages.

Look at it this way: Instant + telegram = instagram !

That can be translated to ‘Instant sharing.’

If that’s what Instagram means, shouldn’t the creators of the symbol stick to Instagram’s roots and keep that old-fashioned feel? A more polaroid-looking symbol would stay true to what Instagram stands for, and what it was originally meant to be. 

Or on the other hand, maybe Instagram should continue to stick with the times and change just like the app changes. We can all agree that Instagram is much different now compared to many years ago.

Future Instagram Symbol

The Instagram symbol is always going to change because the app itself is always changing. It makes you think, what will Instagram be like in 10 years? Its a good chance that the symbol will be different.

Do you think Instagram will keep the fresh and simple look? Or will they go back to their roots and opt for a more vintage logo someday?

After comparing each Instagram symbol, we can all agree that the designs have gotten simpler over time.

Have you had Instagram long enough to remember the oldest ones? Which one is your favorite- or is there a symbol you really miss the most?

By Kim

My name is Kim Hanna. I am a college student at Monmouth University. Writing has always been a passion of mine. I like writing about current trends that have to do with social media and fashion.

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