Today, when Instagram announced its new people-tagging feature, it focused on the new UI changes within the app. But, if you look closely, you'll also see another change: a new script, designed by Denver typographer Mackey Saturday.
Saturday is a friend of Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom, who tapped him to rethink the script in 2012. What's changed? At first glance, not terribly much. The old script was done in Billabong, a webfont that riffed on the 1950s surfer culture that fit perfectly with Instagram's retronostalgic vibe. Saturday hasn't thrown the old script out the window, but he's redrawn it by hand, creating a cleaner, more elegant line from the I to the m. "Kevin has a really good taste for design, and I think it's a big reason for their success," Mackey told me over the phone today. "It was a gradual process of going through and tightening things up."
They began working on the new logoform over a year ago — before Instagram was acquired by Facebook ("which slowed some things down," Mackey adds). Considering how long it took to develop, these changes might seem like minutiae to some. But according to Saturday, minutiae matters when you're trying to build a long-term brand. "The real goal is to sit alongside some of those timeless scripts, like Kellog's and Campbell's," he says. "Coca-cola's another great example. It's nostalgic, but it transcends popular trends."
So Instagram's going to be around for another century? "We can only hope."
The old script is shown in black, the new one is blue.