What is brand iconography? Why is it important to deal with this topic?

Brand iconography refers to the use of symbols, images, and icons that are associated with a particular brand. These visual elements are carefully designed and chosen to represent the brand’s identity, values, and personality. Brand iconography is an essential part of a brand’s visual communication strategy, as it helps create a memorable and recognizable brand image.

brand iconography
Brand iconography: Photo Alexander Shatov / Unsplash

Brand iconography for better brand recognition.

Iconography in branding can include logos, symbols, mascots, and other visual elements that serve as distinctive identifiers for a brand. These elements often appear on products, marketing materials, websites, and other brand touchpoints. A strong and well-designed brand iconography can contribute to brand recognition, build brand loyalty, and convey a sense of consistency and professionalism.

A strong corporate design is the basis for good brand iconography

A good corporate design, also known as corporate identity or brand identity, encompasses a set of visual elements that consistently represent a company’s values, personality, and ethos. Here are key elements of a good corporate design:

  1. Logo:
    • A well-designed logo that is unique, memorable, and reflects the essence of the company.
    • Scalability for use across various mediums without loss of clarity.
  2. Visual Elements / Illustrations, Photos and Icons:
    • Consistent use of visual elements such as icons, or imagery that support the brand’s identity.
  3. Color Palette:
    • A carefully chosen color scheme that aligns with the brand personality and elicits specific emotions.
    • Consistent use of colors across all brand materials for a unified and recognizable identity.
  4. Typography:
    • Selection of appropriate fonts that convey the brand’s tone and style.
    • Consistent use of typography in all communication materials for brand cohesion.

Logos vs. Icons

Logos and icons are both visual elements used in design, but they serve different purposes and have distinct characteristics. Here’s a brief overview of the differences between logos and icons:


  1. Purpose: Logos are unique symbols or designs that represent a brand or company. They are intended to convey the identity and values of the organization.
  2. Complexity: Logos are often more complex and detailed compared to icons. They may include text, intricate graphics, and specific colors to create a distinctive brand image.
  3. Brand Recognition: Logos play a crucial role in brand recognition. When people see a logo, they should immediately associate it with a particular company or product.
  4. Versatility: Logos are versatile and can be used in various contexts, such as business cards, websites, merchandise, and advertisements.
  5. Customization: Logos are typically custom-designed to reflect the unique personality and essence of a brand. They involve careful consideration of the brand’s values, target audience, and industry.

For example, the Apple logo, Nike’s swoosh, and the McDonald’s golden arches are all examples of logos.


  1. Purpose: Icons are simplified, visual representations of objects, actions, or concepts. They are used to convey information quickly and efficiently, often without the need for text.
  2. Simplicity: Icons are designed to be simple and easily recognizable. They use basic shapes and minimal details to convey their meaning.
  3. Functionality: Icons are commonly used in user interfaces (UI) to represent specific functions or actions, such as a magnifying glass for search or a floppy disk for saving.
  4. Scalability: Icons are designed to be scalable, meaning they can be resized without losing clarity. This makes them suitable for various platforms, including websites, mobile apps, and print materials.
  5. Consistency: Icons often follow a consistent design language to ensure uniformity across different elements of a user interface or brand collateral.

Brand iconography example: Airbus Icon Library.

In summary, while logos and icons share the commonality of being visual elements, logos are specifically tailored to represent a brand’s identity, while icons are more universal symbols used for quick communication of information, especially in user interfaces.

Why are icons important for brand recognition?

Icons play a crucial role for brand iconography by providing a visual shorthand for a brand’s identity, fostering memorability, ensuring consistency, and facilitating effective communication in a variety of contexts.

  • Visual Identity: Icons serve as a visual representation of a brand. They condense complex ideas or values into a simple and recognizable image. This visual identity helps consumers easily identify and remember the brand amidst a sea of other options.
  • Consistency: Icons contribute to the overall consistency of a brand’s visual identity across various platforms and mediums. Consistency is crucial for building trust and familiarity with consumers over time.
  • Simplicity and Clarity: Icons, by nature, are simple and clear. This simplicity ensures that the brand message is communicated quickly and effectively, even in situations where attention spans are short or visual clutter is present.
  • Cross-cultural Communication: Icons have the advantage of being more universally understood across different cultures and languages. They can transcend language barriers, making it easier for a brand to communicate its identity to a global audience.
  • Brand Extension: Icons can be used across various products, services, and marketing materials. This consistent use helps in creating a cohesive brand image and facilitates brand extension into new areas.

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