Join Sean Adams for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating an icon, part of Branding for Designers.
Overuse is one of the biggest issues with icons as logos. Since businesses tend to emulate other businesses that succeed, we've seen a repetition of strategy and mission. From a corner bistro, to a Fortune 500 corporation, everyone wants to communicate growth, global thinking, innovation, community and quality. The world is filled with thousands of meaningless icons that convey these ideas. This has led to logos that are indistinguishable from the next.
Too many merging circles. I found that the audience responds better to an icon that is a representation of a symbol or connected to the brand message. When I start designing an icon, I start with words. I take the defining attributes that my client and I have determined for the brand, and write them down. Now, I brainstorm concepts that might serve as a symbol of each word. What symbolizes creativity? Is it a nest or a key? Is a compass a good symbol for innovation? I go down my list and assign symbols to each word.
Now I explore different ways to express these symbols visually. I might sketch these on paper, or begin working in Illustrator, referencing images. Again, don't worry about refining these too much yet. You might not use them. Once I've exhausted all of my symbols, I choose my favorites and refine them. Are there common forms I can use? The icon will have more harmony with echoing forms. To start, I work in black and white. I don't want to be swayed by color, yet.
Once I start refining, I will revert back to the defining attributes and apply color. If innovative is one, my icon probably shouldn't look too antique. I also just keep moving along. Nobody needs to see your work here. If an icon turns out to be a real dog, leave it and move on to the next variation. You can always go back and see something you missed earlier. By the end of this process, you should have three or four possible symbols drawn in a style that reflects the brand.
Now it's time to put it all back together.
- The history of branding (pre- and post-1950)
- The elements of branding
- Conducting research
- Solving problems and presenting solutions
- Creating logos and identity systems
- Building a visual system with color, typography, and more
- Communicating branding with manuals and vision books