As we know, we humans tend to remember things better and faster when we see them rather than reading or listening. Icons are the first level representation for your mobile or web app, software and possibly your organization. The more distinct and smart the design is, the better the chances to attract a huge number of leads.
But icon design is not as simple as it looks. It’s an art to design an icon that’s clean, recognizable, can be scaled to any size and targets the right audience. If your icon is not working out for you, we bring you 6 easy ways to either re-design your icon or create a new one from the scratch:
1. Use a grid and define your limits
The most unique and engaging icons actually start simple. Take out that grid sheet you used in your school and mark a square boundary. Square boundary is recommended as most of the places where you need to put these icons, be it your mobile app or web app or maybe your social media accounts, require it to fit within a square space.
But having a square boundary doesn’t restrict you to design an icon of literally any shape you want. Remember this: whatever is the shape of your icon, it should be horizontally and vertically center aligned. This lets you to maintain a consistent scale and makes it easy to use afterwards.
Setting up a grid gives you a base to start with and additionally lets you draw straight, diagonal or angular lines.
2. Geometry, if not necessary, is worth considering
It doesn’t matter what the final shape will look like, it always starts with the basic geometry. Remember we used to draw faces by drawing circle, rectangle and triangle first? That’s because we know what they are and we can identify them almost immediately. Simple geometric shapes let us refine the design and eliminate the possibility of slight variations in the edges that may occur due to hand drawings and make the icon look less attractive at smaller sizes.
A great example to justify the above point is Dropbox. The icon is nothing but many squares and rectangles put together to make a distinct icon which is creative and easy to understand. You can also design icons by using single block letters like Amazon or Facebook does. This might not be applicable for widespread applications, but does the trick for them.
3. Make a unique shape resembling your brand
Now that the geometry has been taken care of, use them to make a unique shape, or at least try to, which resemble your brand. One of the many examples would be Gmail. It is a simple yet impactful icon, telling you almost instantly that it is something related to letters. Following are some important points to take into consideration for making a unique icon:
- Keep icons flat. They work best with any background.
- Don’t use texts or images. They won’t be visible in small sizes.
- See if your icon can be recognized in black and white too. That makes the icon recognizable almost everywhere.
4. Consistency in the design makes your logo stand out of the crowd
Consistency is one thing how you and your brand will be remembered. Icons should be capable to communicate the right object, idea or a vision to your potential customers. Too many details will add complexity and dilute the meaning. The rule of thumb says that the designer must include bare minimum details needed to make the idea clear. Did you cut a rounded corner at the bottom left? Consider doing it on all corners. Is the light effect coming from the right direction in one icon? Make sure it’s the same in the whole set of icons.
As it is important to maintain the consistency in the way you design the logo, it is also a necessity to stick to the colors used across your brand. A great suggestion by top designers is to design your logo in black and white first. This will not only maintain the consistency, but also ensures that it works well with colors added.
5. Always design the logo for the smallest size
Since the logo will be used almost everywhere, from the website’s favicon to the large banners, you must ensure that it is recognizable in its smallest size. Favicons are generally uploaded in just 16 by 16 pixels. If your icon is clearly visible and able to communicate the meaning at this size, you’re definitely going in the right direction.
But if the answer to the above question is NO, consider designing a new one or a different one for such small sizes.
6. Stop overdesign and decoration
Avoid adding too much details and meaning to the logo. Just make sure it gives a high level understanding of what your brand or app is all about. Moreover, too much decoration end up looking bad in small spaces and takes all the focus in large banners.
The moral of the story is to keep it simple. Designing icons is fun if you have time and are willing to learn. Else there are many portals to buy a good set of icons to use in your projects.