Controversy Forces Amazon to Change Their New App Icon

Hey MEJO482 Students!

Just wanted to pass along an interesting bit of news from the world of graphic design. This is a story of the unfortunate associations people can make with a logo that most likely could have been anticipated by the designers.

In January, as some of you may have noticed, Amazon changed their app icon to look like one of their packages. The new icon had a strip of blue tape sealing the box on the top, right above their classic logo of a smile


Many observers were quick to point out that the blue tape resembled the characteristic, toothbrush-style mustache of notorious Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. So Amazon altered the blue tape detail on the icon to remove the jagged edges and add the folded edge of the tape. See the redesigned, and re-redesigned icons below.

Click the image for a larger version.

The Amazon icon (left) released in January 2021, and the newest version (right).

So think about this situation from a designer’s point of view: If your icon has a smile in the center, you are more-or-less creating a face. People are going to make that association because when you put a mouth on any inanimate object, it humanizes that object. Wherever the mouth is then “becomes” the face.

So, naturally, if you put anything directly above a mouth that isn’t a nose people are going to assume it is a mustache. And in this case, the jagged edges along the bottom of the blue tape make that association even stronger because now it looks like cartoon hair.

Part of being a designer is your responsibility to understand history and how images are associated with and have shaped it. In this situation, I don’t know how anyone on the creative team that designed this icon didn’t see it as a major problem.

When creating visual assets for a multi-billion dollar brand like Amazon, you literally have to try and explore EVERY SINGLE OPTION in the early sketching phase in order to catch mistakes like this. You HAVE to expect that the critics of these companies will tear apart and examine everything they do, say, or create. This situation is a prime example.

Let this serve as a reminder to always try and empathize with the users and viewers of the things you design, especially icons/symbols. As humans, we tend to remember things that are bad or that scare us. Those memories can stick with us our entire lives. Certain things are so awful (like Hitler) that even the slightest associations with them are glaringly obvious.


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