With so many modern gadgets at their finger tips, from iphones to digital cameras, one can assume that most computer users are getting icon-savvy. They see loads of icons everywhere and instinctively know how to use them most of the time. This sets a challenge to entrepreneurs who are developing new applications and software to come up with ever higher standards.
Like the logos that advertise and promote your business, icons can make a difference to the quality, usability as well as the perception of your product. This makes it important to go for quality and high-standard designs. It’s a bit like choosing a special present for a dear friend: you don’t go looking in the pound shop. With businesses facing global competition, it makes sense to avoid the cheap and shoddy icons in off-the-shelf packages and to have them specifically tailored to suit your needs.
One approach to getting an icon package designed for your business is to see the icons as an essential part of branding. From this angle, you can identify some branding criteria to consider in commissioning your icons. Here are five factors to consider:
1. Quality: It goes without saying that if you want to compete with the best in the world, then you have to be up there with the best. So better to commission your own unique icons for your company rather than trawl the pound shop for icons that are the modern descendants of ancient clip-art.
2. Uniqueness: This is where you take a look at your competition and come up with something one step ahead of them, or something quite unique. Great brands can even launch something counter-intuitive to the norm in their industry and come out as winners.
3. Consistency: A great icon design package will have a consistent feel to it, so that users know they’re in the same application or program as they navigate around. Not only that: you can get a design company to come up with a set of icons that also takes account of what else you have on your website, as well as your advertising material, company logos and so on.
4. Visual appeal: There are lots of boring icons out there, don’t let yours join this losing team. We’re going for quality, aren’t we? And where’s the harm in having something eye-catching too? Strong visual appeal definitely adds a winning edge.
5. Usability: Of course the icons must do the job they are designed to do, and in their proper context. For instance, they should make your application or software easy and pleasant to use, or help to make a website easy to navigate if they are to be used there. Some of the best icons out there manage to feel sophisticated and simple at the same time: they are highly specialised, while facilitating almost instinctive use of applications or programs. This is the sort of standard you want to aim for with your icons.
There you have it: icons can be a strong part of your brand. So get the best designed for you.
Owner and creative director at Creative Freedom Ltd. Unbelievably cool icon design expert, husband, and father of two awesome girls. A proper decent chappy and thoroughly fab to work with. Ok, so I wrote my own bio…