Once you choose a logo icon, it’ll be the symbol that you’ll forever use to represent your business. Pretty daunting, right?
After all, your icon is probably going to be the main visual focus of your logo, and by extension, the “face” that your brand presents to the world.
That’s why, whether you’re using a logo maker like Tailor Brands (that’s us!) or designing your logo yourself, it can be tough to decide which icon is the best for your brand.
And, with thousands of images available in every industry, it’s nice to have a helping hand to narrow down the list.
But don’t worry! We’ve outlined everything you need to know about logo icons here, from the different types of logo icons available to how to actually pick the right one for your brand.
Ready to get started?
The simple answer is: You don’t.
If you’re thinking, “plenty of brands such as Kleenex and Coca-Cola don’t have an icon”—you’re right! They don’t have an icon, and there’s a perfectly good reason why that is.
These are companies who have grown their businesses to such astronomical heights, that their name has become more than just a brand; it’s come to stand for the name of the products they—and others—sell. They’ve become so popular that the two can’t be separated.
How many times have you asked for a Kleenex instead of a tissue? Or asked for a Coke because you want a fizzy drink? And people will even apologize when they can only provide you with an alternative. “Sorry, we only have Pepsi.
But, as a new business owner, if you want to make the biggest impact possible with your brand and grow your reach, then you’re going to need a strong brand identity.
And if you’re only just starting your branding journey, you’re going to need to capture your audience’s attention and push your brand.
More often than not, the best way you can unlock your brand’s full potential is by using an icon in your logo. Your business name alone may not be able to communicate a powerful message or elicit emotions from your audience.
But, by combining it with an icon, you increase your chances of not only grabbing your audience’s attention but also becoming memorable and eliciting strong reactions.
Now that we’ve established why and when you need to use an icon in your logo, it’s time to talk about the different types of logo icons available. There are 4 different types in total, and the one that you choose will profoundly affect your branding success.
Here’s what you need to know about each of the 4 logo icon types:
An abstract logo icon is one of the hardest to pull off. Instead of using a recognizable image, such as an apple or bird, you’re using a geometric shape to represent your brand. The best example of a successful abstract logo is Pepsi.
If you want to create a truly unique logo that no one can copy, and that’s distinct from everyone else, this is your best option.
But, if your brand identity and reach is still in its infancy, you may struggle to convey the feelings and emotions that you want your audience to associate with your brand.
Abstract logos are best used by companies who have lots of advertising bandwidth (we’re talking TV-level) and already have an established name.
Don’t let the fancy name fool you; a pictorial icon simply means a graphic or image that illustrates a real object.
Companies like Apple use icons to literally represent their brand name.
By using a pictorial icon, they can inject their own brand personality into the image (see that bite?)—something they can’t do with their name alone.
Another example is Twitter. Although slightly less obvious than Apple, Twitter created its iconic bird icon to represent tweets—an accurate portrayal of what the brand is used for.
If your brand has a name that’s easy to create a literal image from, such as John Deer or Target, then you should definitely think about using that as your icon instead of an abstract representation. This will help reinforce your brand name and have it stick in the minds of your customers.
These logo symbols don’t usually stand on their own. Instead, they’re used to enhance a business’s name, by incorporating text within a frame or a badge. Companies should consider using an emblem logo if they want to be associated with feelings of traditionalism or longevity.
Check out these famous logos as examples of what you can do with emblems:
This one is only relevant to you if a professional designer is creating your logo on your behalf. A custom icon will certainly be unique, and it can help enhance your brand if you have a well-thought-out message behind the design. In fact, our own logo icon at Tailor Brands was custom-made!
It’s important to stay cautious about designing icons that are too detailed or complex, because they will be difficult to see when resized (think business cards or mobile screens). And, make sure to get others to weigh in on your custom design before you commit, so that you can be sure it will have the right impact on your audience.
Now that we’ve seen how other companies choose logo icons, here are a few steps you can take to make sure you pick the right icon for your brand:
Your logo icon is going to function as the main visual focus of your brand. Regardless of what your audience knows beforehand, they’re going to instantly make judgments about your brand when they see your logo.
So, it’s important to think about which traits you want to get across. Is your brand professional, trustworthy, traditional, playful? Decide what the core message of your brand is, and only then start to search for icons that represent that message.
Like we mentioned above, if your icon design is too complicated, or it’s hard to tell what it is (is it a bird, is it a plane?) it’s going to lose your audience. They’ll have a tough time understanding what your brand is about, and they’ll quickly move on as a result.
Plus, simple designs are easier to scale up and down to use across all of your marketing mediums, both online and offline.
Apple’s famous icon works because it’s a literal representation of their brand name. By itself, an apple doesn’t have much to do with computers (although there are rumors that the “bite” in the apple icon actually symbolizes a computer byte). That brand association only happened after Apple established itself as a brand leader within the computer and technology industry.
If your brand is still unknown, you can help reinforce your brand’s niche by using an everyday item in your industry, or what you think your best-selling product will be. For example, a sporting goods store that’s best known for its high-end rock-climbing gear might want to think about a harness icon.
It may seem tempting to take on the task of designing your logo by yourself.
But once you have some ideas, ask your friends and family for feedback before you commit! You may be surprised by some of their comments, and it’s important to get an objective opinion on how your icon will go over with your audience.
If you’re not sure where to find icons, here are several places you can search:
1. Right here at Tailor Brands! With our logo maker, you’ll gain access to thousands of incredible icon designs that you can use, spanning every industry and niche. Start creating your logo, use our search bar to browse through keywords, and play with different icons until you find the perfect one to match your vision.
2. A professional graphic designer. While there are advantages to hiring a graphic designer to create custom icons, their services are usually on the expensive side. And, you’re restricted to receiving a small number of designs, based solely on the ability of your hired designer.
3. Icon websites. There are a number of different sites out there that offer a range of icons, depending on your industry and style. Sites like Iconfinder offer tons of free icons that you can use commercially, though you will need to attribute credit to the original designer.
Or, you can pay a monthly fee (usually around $10 a month) to use the premium services of sites like Flaticon, who give you access to thousands of editable icons that don’t require attribution.
You don’t necessarily need to pay for a subscription, but remember that if you’re downloading an icon for free, anyone else in the world can use the same icon. If you want your logo to be unique, you’re probably better off biting the bullet and purchasing the icon you want (which will also give you customizable files).
Designing a logo is one of the most fun and creative parts of starting your own business. We hope the above breakdown of the different icon types will help steer you towards creating your own awesome logo.
Remember to keep your brand’s personality and character in mind, and that every font and color you use works harmoniously, so the people who see your logo sit up and take notice.
Let your creative juices out, and start your logo design with the Tailor Brands logo maker to bring your brand to life!