Why use icons?
From road signs to laptops and mobiles, we’re surrounded by icons. Well-designed icons communicate a concept much faster than just words alone. They have a universal appeal; just think of the Olympics and how icons are used to represent different sports and transcend language barriers making international marketing much easier.
Create a consistent, branded set of icons
When adding icons to your brand toolkit, there are a few simple things to remember to ensure they work hard for your communication.
The style of your icons should all be the same and as your library grows over time, any additions should follow the same so that your messages are clear and consistent. A simple way to make them all on brand is to use one or two colours from your corporate palette.
You can take this a step further and use shape, perhaps putting icons in a similar shape to one in your logo. The most important thing with using shape is to make sure that the shape doesn’t interfere or distract from the icon itself, or your messaging will get lost and confused.
Mobilise use a thin 2-colour keyline style for their icons. On key diagrams and infographics, the icons are contained within a shape that echoes their logo icon.
The best icons are often the simplest ones, using as little as possible to convey their meaning. Use them to showcase product or service features, combine them together on infographics to breakdown a complex subject, add them to website navigation to help direct users, enrich your corporate presentations and research reports – the possibilities are endless!
HPD Lendscape also have a 2-colour keyline style. Each icon is contained within a section of a diamond taken from their logo.
Icons for Vesta formed an integral part of their brand identity appearing in a mix of colours from their brand palette. Simple icons were used to support presentations and product features. The icons were also the base for one of their key brand images – a property skyline with added brand graphics
Icons for Intra1 are used in both infographics and their animation explainer.
How to use icons effectively
On each piece of collateral, try to use your icons at the same size throughout, whether that’s in a single infographic or within a presentation. When creating icons for our clients, we set up the files so that each icon is the same size to make this easier.
If you want to use your icons over coloured backgrounds, your files need to be transparent pngs. Jpeg files will always have a background against them, whether that’s white or a colour if they have been created with one.
There are ‘universal’ icon symbols especially when it comes to digital communication – think of the magnifying glass for search; three bars for a menu or a shopping basket. It’s best not to stray from these symbols as that could lead to confusion.
Icons can be whatever you want them to be so don't be afraid to experiment with how you use them. When designed correctly, they speed up communication, provide good social content and build your brand.