I wrote last month about Amazon's new app icon that had started popping up in different parts of the world with a software update. At the time, I argued it was a smart move because the new icon capitalized on the goodwill people associate with receiving a package from Amazon.
Others, however, saw the icon differently. Specifically, they pointed out how the icon bore an unfortunate resemblance to the signature mustache of one particularly unpopular historical figure.
They weren't entirely wrong. You could certainly find an allusion to a certain World War II-era German dictator if you wanted to, even if it's in an icon that was clearly meant to resemble the side of an Amazon box with its signature smile and blue tape.
I still thought the overall redesign was a great way for the company to capitalize on its most effective and valuable brand asset: Its brown boxes. At the time, I wrote:
The thing about shopping on Amazon is to get the box. That's the physical experience. Opening your front door, bringing a brown box with blue tape, and opening it up. The box is the experience because it represents the thing you want to have.
The point is, you don't use the app to fill a shopping cart, you use the app to get the box. Everyone likes getting a box from Amazon. The new app icon sort of says, "Want that feeling? Tap me."
On Monday, however, Amazon rolled out the app icon with an update. This time it had a small tweak that was almost certainly in response to the backlash. In place of the square piece of tape with a ragged cut edge, it now features a more squared-off piece with a folded corner.
We'll set aside that the new app icon is almost guaranteed to trigger those of us who have an obsessive-compulsive reaction to imperfect packing tape (it's a real thing, leave me alone). The new version is brilliant exactly because it shows the company is listening.
In fact, it reminds me of something Jeff Bezos said in an interview in 2018.
"First, look in a mirror and decide if your critics are right," Bezos said. "If they are, change." That appears to be exactly what Amazon did. It recognized that its effort to update its icon might give some people the wrong idea, saw that it wasn't worth digging in on, and changed the icon.
That isn't always easy, and it's a great example of emotional intelligence. The newest version still communicates the exact same sentiment that I described previously about the box, now without any mixed connotation. It's not often that giant companies make changes like this, and the fact that Amazon made a subtle tweak is pure marketing genius.
Think about how much benefit they got from the most minor of changes. Sure, you can argue they should have seen it before, and never released the previous version. That's fair, I suppose, though I'd argue that the previous version was just fine. It was very clear that it was meant to resemble a box and tape and the e-commerce company's logo.
Then again, I suppose when you're one of the largest, most powerful companies on the planet, and facing criticism for the amount of control you have over the everyday lives of Americans, it's best to avoid any allusion to smirking dictators.