A picture is worth a thousand words. In logo design, this is exactly what an icon does.
With the design of your logo you have the possibility to either display the name of your brand in a classic way as a purely typographical logo or you extend the brand name by a graphic representation of your brand. This representation is called an icon.
There are brands that have become famous with their typographic logo alone – some of them are true legends with a world-famous typeface. These include amongst many others Google, Coca Cola and m&ms. Although these brands have made small adaptations to their typefaces, most notably Google, they have generally remained true to their look.
Let the icon tell your story
But if you think of Apple, for example, you immediately think of the famous apple logo, which is a perfectly designed icon. The apple usually stands alone for the company and has generated an enormous brand value for the company due to its strong recognisability.
Perfect match: Font & Icon
Some brands opt for a combination of these two strategies and work with both a lettering and an icon. In practice, this is particularly often the case with apps. For Instagram, for example, the app icon has now become a kind of second logo. The same applies to Tinder, where the icon is also part of the lettering. In all these examples, the icon is so strong that it could also replace the logo lettering.
What is an icon?
Before we get too lost in the best practice examples, let's take a step back and answer the question: What is an icon? For those of you who like to win at Trivial Pursuit, we'd like to briefly mention here that the word “icon” has its origin in the Greek Language and stands for the religious icons, which were images of saints that were worshipped by the people. Which is also true in the case of Apple and its fans. In connection with logo design, an icon is a symbol that should clarify the brand and make it recognizable at the first glance. The icon usually symbolizes the USP of the product or service and supports the name.
Does my logo need an icon?
In our overcrowded world, an icon helps to recognize the brand immediately. An icon strengthens the value of your brand and helps you to set yourself apart from the competition. If you have developed an app you will most definitely need an icon. For all other brands, it is important that the icon tells a story. A story that the name alone can't tell.
There’s one very important rule in design: Less is more – this also applies of course to the design of your logo. If you feel like working with the icon and using it in the storytelling of your brand: Go for it. Especially if you have already fallen in love with the first draft of the icon, it is clear that it will also be iconic to your fans.
Caro, am 7. November 2019