Amazon’s New Icon Holds Us to a Promise We Never Made

Tabarak Khan
3 min readMar 2, 2021
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Amazon changed its logo from a dot-com era shopping cart to its signature brown shipping box sealed with blue tape. The image, while clean, minimalistic and innocent, still represents a shipping box — the physical manifestation of our weakening resolve to address single-use, one-way packaging. If an icon update is meant to represent a brand’s evolution, I’m not comfortable with where Amazon is going.

Like millions of subscribers who found themselves unprepared for an unrelenting lockdown, I increasingly relied on Amazon throughout the pandemic. This is a first world privilege of course - one that started as a convenience and slowly morphed into indulgence, bordering on addiction. Through Prime membership, 1-click payments, and subscriptions, Amazon deftly decoupled the pain of payment from the indulgence of receiving; and we have been hooked ever since. Safety measures and lockdowns brought on by the pandemic gave us an excuse to treat our addiction like a civic responsibility. The packages kept coming.

There is something about the digital cloud that makes it feel clean, and free of harmful emissions or noise. Maybe it’s because we can’t imagine that a few excited electrons could do any harm. However, it is also true that every time a brown box arrives at my doorstep, it chips away at my moral high ground. As Amazon shrinks the shipping timelines, the frequency of deliveries keeps increasing — establishing an inverse relationship between the two that reveals an uncomfortable truth about our environmental sensibilities.

The truth is that the onus of recycling and carrying the baggage of guilt is on us — the customers. With its new icon, Amazon makes it official.

I find it amusing that Amazon, which pioneered the concept of a store in the cloud, is actually using a physical end-product as its app icon. When it comes to storytelling, brands strive to communicate the emotions they deliver to the customer. For example, Apple delivers innovation and creativity. Tesla delivers the sci-fi future from our childhoods. Disney delivers magic. Is Amazon in the business of delivering smiles or delivering boxes?

Tabarak Khan

I write about the psychological, emotional, and cultural factors that affect our decisions. Engineer | Brand Strategist | Curious