From the first interaction an audience has with your brand, visual cues guide and shape the experience. Key brand elements like your color palette, fonts, and logo make your mark and remind your customers of you and what you represent.
Your choices of icons are an essential, but often overlooked element of your cohesive brand identity, story, and personality. They are an essential communication tool, and appear in far more places than just websites — everything from printed publications and e-books to blogs and one-pagers can use icons to convey a story or message with clarity and concision. In this post we’ll explore five steps to choosing the best icons for your designs.
- Make sure your icons are on-brand.
Make sure the icons your choose reflect the personality of your company. For example, if your brand is very modern, try line icons for a clean look, and avoid cartoony designs. If it’s geared toward millennials, try some funky, hip icons with flair.
- Choose colors carefully.
Start with the brand color palette, but remember that your goal is goes beyond making the icon pop. Colors reflect actions – red for stop, green for go – and these visual cues can be used effectively to guide an audience through their experience, be it an app, website, or one-pager.
- Choose icons that have meaning.
The icons you choose should convey your message, as well as look good. Avoid pretty icons without a message, instead choose imagery that conveys a meaning. This meaning can be an action (ie download this eBook, refresh this page), or simply representative of a brand element.
- When in doubt, start with commonly recognized icons — our own modern hieroglyphs.
We all immediately understand what an icon of a printer or a trash can means. These commonly used symbols should be used whenever possible. They will help not only with conveying your message or intention, but also with “translating” the rest of your icons — they provide a frame of reference for the icon style across your designs.
- Consider your global audience.
As with colors, symbols can have different meanings in different regions, and extra care must be taken to ensure no icons resemble offensive or otherwise inappropriate characters or symbols. In addition, consider if what you understand to be representative of an idea will translate to another country — the United States “$” dollar sign may not be the best icon for “money” if your audience is in the European Union.
With these five steps in mind, your icons will become stronger tools to shape your narrative and guide your audience through any design. If you found this post helpful, please let us know by getting in touch with us today!