Iconic Thinking

Published: July 19th, 2010 by Ryan M.



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Does anyone surfing the web these days see a blue bird or a chubby aqua “T” and not think of Twitter?

Icons—pictorial representations of brands, products, or people—can be powerful tools to help you stand out in the cyber crowd.

A customized icon set—a group of similarly styled icons, much like a family of fonts—takes iconic branding to the next level by helping you:

  • Differentiate one product, application, or blogger from another.
  • Organize products into like groups—without sacrificing the consistent elements of your brand.
  • Streamline the back-end functionality of your content management system, which makes it easier for staff to navigate and to train new staff on how to use it.
  • Provide a consistent theme for graphic, product, app, and other designers to use for creating new icons.

Here at Atomic, my process for developing icon sets is pretty straightforward. It focuses on upfront preparation, which conserves your time, cuts down on costs, and ensures that we get the best results.

  • Brainstorm. First, I’ll brainstorm with you to learn who and what the icon set is for. What message, position, feeling do you hope to convey? I might just listen to how you talk about your products or brand, take notes, and then jot down some ideas to see what creative concepts emerge.
  • Research. Often, these early brainstorming sessions are augmented with additional research. I want to know what your competition is doing. I also like to check out how other sites use icon sets and to what effect.
  • Sketch. Next, I’ll sketch out some more concrete ideas for you to review—including color schemes that bring the concepts to life. I’ll typically present ideas from a variety of different angles to see which ones you think work best for your goals. And I’ll provide my two cents to help you decide.
  • Refine. Once I get more feedback, I can refine the sketches to create full, polished illustrations.

Soon enough, your customized icon set is ready to be deployed.

Now that’s iconic thinking for your brand and your business.

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