Instagram rolled out a big “brand refresh” today, which is usually a fancy term for brushing up on some marketing collateral and making big hand-waving statements about logos. And there is plenty here too. (May I interest you for a long digression on illuminated gradients?) But there’s also a much bigger change: Instagram has created its own font, called Instagram Sans, which it plans to use widely in the future, both in marketing as in the app itself.
Instagram Sans was inspired by Instagram’s logo, the company said, and “reflects the shape of the glyph and our commitment to simplicity and craftsmanship.” (Like I said, hand wavy.) It’s largely inspired by the combination of squares and circles, or as Instagram fondly calls them, squirrels. And, as Instagram has always tried to do, it’s a mix of pixel-perfect and hand-crafted with a few touches, like the not-quite-straight terminal at the bottom of the ‘t’, which makes it look more human. In some places you can see the evolution of the cursive logo that Instagram has been using for years.
Most Instagram Sans fonts are fairly simple sans serifs, which makes sense for a brand with such a global and diverse group of users. Instagram said it was working with linguists to ensure the font works in as many languages as possible, including scripting languages such as Thai and Japanese. In some fonts, only a small bump in the tail of the capital “Q” indicates that it is an unusual font. But then there’s Instagram Sans Script, which blooms broad brushstroke-y on just about any letter, sometimes with a cool effect (the capital “W” resembles a super-hip yoga studio logo) and sometimes to very strange results (the small letter ” r” doesn’t even look like a letter).
However, what the crazier fonts give Instagram is a much clearer identity. One place the company hopes users will try Instagram Sans is in Stories and Reels, where a caption written in Sans Script looks nothing like a ripped TikTok video. As vertical video becomes the norm, there’s a certain equality that permeates the social landscape, and while an unnecessarily wavy “x” might not change everything, it is something.
However, the real question is how users will experience the new look. Meta knows better than anyone how resistant users can be to change; remember all “10,000 against the new Facebook!” groups? That may be why Instagram is starting small instead of completely overhauling everything about the app on day one. But don’t be surprised if you see squirrels popping up in more places before you know it.