These eye-tracking heatmaps reveal why Instagram’s new icon could actually be a huge improvement

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Before and after.
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Dragonfly

When brands release new icons and logos, previously loyal customers often groan with frustration.

This happened when Instagram changed its app icon at the start of May. The flatter, more abstract design was described by Adweek as possibly “one of the biggest design fails of the year.”

But the industry trade title was wrong, according to new analysis from Dragonfly, a design-analysis app created by Black Swan and researchers from Queen Mary University of London.

The new logo is actually 10% more engaging to the human eye than its predecessor, according to the app.

Dragonfly uses a computational model to process the visual characteristics of what someone is looking at (orientation, contrast, texture, luminance) to assign a stimulus attention score to every pixel, demonstrating its attractiveness. The resulting graphics are heatmaps that display what grabs human attention in the first three seconds of interaction.

Business Insider asked Dragonfly to analyze the old and new logos of 10 major brands, giving each a saliency score out of 100. Below are the results:


Instagram’s old logo has a mediocre saliency score of 58. Dragonfly suggested that it relied on “nostalgia” and that much of its saliency relied on the ‘Insta” text, offset against the lighter background.

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Dragonfly

The new, controversial logo has a more impressive saliency score of 68. It is “more impactful,” according to Dragonfly, with the “bright gradient of colors interrupted by the white outline of a camera,” drawing eyes to the center of the image.

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Dragonfly

Google’s old logo has a decent saliency score 67, which is unsurprising for such an iconic brand.

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Dragonfly

Google’s new logo, however, dropped two points to 65. Dragonfly said this was caused by the lack of a loop in the second “g,” which apparently draws the eye.

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Dragonfly

Uber’s old logo, with a white “u” on a black background, is described as “impactful” by Dragonfly, which gave it a good saliency score of 63.

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Dragonfly

Uber’s new logo is much less attractive, however, Dragonfly says. It has a saliency score of just 53.

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Dragonfly

Airbnb’s old logo came out with a very high saliency score of 76.

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Dragonfly

Airbnb’s new logo is almost as good, with a saliency score of 75. Airbnb’s strong performance could be linked to its founders’ background in art and design.

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Dragonfly

Twitter’s old bird logo may have a larger beak than the new version, but it scored just 47 on Dragonfly’s saliency analysis.

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Dragonfly

Twitter’s new logo came out better, with a saliency score of 58. The beak is more of a focal point in the new bird, and it lacks the distracting feathers on the top of its head.

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Dragonfly

Yahoo’s old, iconic logo has a solid saliency score of 67.

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Dragonfly

Its new logo is a slight improvement, rising to 69. The “deeper color of purple with added shadowing makes it crisper to the eye,” Dragonfly says.

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Dragonfly

Facebook’s old logo scored a massive 80 by using a clear, attractive font.

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Dragonfly

The new Facebook logo has undergone only minor changes, but the slightly finer font, with the more curved “a,” knocked its saliency score slightly down to 79.

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Dragonfly

The beer brand Coors Light’s old logo scored an impressive 73. This was due to the “tightly packed” text, which “draws focus,” Dragonfly says.

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Dragonfly

The new Coors Light logo is much worse, according to the analysis, scoring just 57. The wider logo “quickly gets washed out,” Dragonfly says.

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Dragonfly

The white edging of Paypal’s old logo gives it a strong saliency score of 72.

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DragonFly

With this white highlighting removed, Paypal’s new logo’s saliency falls to 66. Also, the lighter shade of blue in the new logo makes it “slightly washed out,” Dragonfly says.

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Dragonfly

Foursquare’s old logo was pretty good, gaining a high saliency score of 72.

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Dragonfly

But Foursquare’s new logo was even better, gaining the highest saliency score of the analysis, with 82. This is down to the sharp red “F” and the all-capitals lettering, which is clearer than the old cursive font.

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Dragonfly