Icons help us all understand the world, whether we realize it or not. Even people who’ve never used an actual floppy disk recognize a floppy disk icon means “save.” An exclamation point in an icon communicates the need for caution. Our favorite simplified human figures (one in a very triangular dress) lead us to the nearest bathroom.
And you can add that visual communication to your own content, too. Read on to discover some of the biggest benefits to adding a custom icon library to your brand’s design resources.
1. Icons create a visual language for your brand and content.
You’d be surprised how much a little visual signal like an icon can direct your reader’s attention and help them retain your messages. It’s all part of building that visual language. Your audience will begin to recognize your icons, even if they don’t realize it. Maybe you use a video camera icon when you’re promoting your webinars. Or hands holding a heart when you talk about your philanthropy.
You can even depict your specific products in a simplified way with bespoke branded icons. Your organization isn’t like anyone else’s. How could a generic icon set truly help tell your stories?
An icon library isn’t just for external audiences either. Create custom icons for your internal communications. How would you depict various employee resource groups or benefits?
Here are a few examples of branded icons — click each image to see the icons in context within the full infographic:
2. A custom icon library makes your content more polished.
Yes, icons are great, but grabbing any old JPEG to use as an icon won’t cut it. Your messages deserve better than clip art, right? Consistency adds legitimacy to your content. An icon that doesn’t match the others — or worse yet, a group of icons that are all mismatched — cheapens your brand, making you look less trustworthy.
You have important things to say, and polished visuals give your readers a cue to that importance.
3. A dedicated icon library makes content creation more scalable.
Having a comprehensive library of icons that meet your established brand guidelines saves time and effort when creating new materials. Even non-designers can add some visual pizzazz to their content when they have access to the library and clear guidelines for use. (As in, please don’t stretch your icons or add drop shadows or change the colors or forget to leave a margin. Thank you.)
Your team members can even upload your beautiful icons to easy content creation tools like Canva. They can arrange them on presentation slides (using your clear brand guidelines for spacing and stitch) or use them to break up blocks of text in email updates. The possibilities are endless.
4. There are several organization strategies that make it easy to navigate an icon library.
“Hey, Dave! First of all, you’re my favorite coworker. Also, I know you have to finish that huge project in the next hour, and I realize everyone else on your team is stranded on a ski lift and unable to help you, but do you know where I can find that icon of a thumbs up we use sometimes?”
Don’t be that person. With a polished, complete icon library easily available for download, your team members can find what they need without asking around. On top of that, if your icon files are named clearly, you can avoid having duplicates for the same idea (e.g., only one icon for “email”). This helps with brand consistency.
Taking it to the next level, a digital asset manager that includes a tagging system is the most effective storage option for icon libraries. It’s always up to date in the cloud, and it makes updating or retagging icons easier when needed.
5. An icon library is a great step toward a more cohesive and comprehensive design system for your brand.
A brand’s design system is a collection of visual devices that an organization uses to communicate the brand—graphic imagery, a color system, fonts, a logo, and yes, an icon library.
A design system centralizes your company’s visual knowledge into a convenient, confusion-free base that can be tapped at any point of any project. It isn’t an illustration library, a style guide, or best practices concerning a few FAQs—it’s all that and more.
Once your team is comfortable using an icon library, it becomes easier to onboard them to using other scalable components of a design system like an illustration library or content templates.
Ready to get started on your own icon library? Lemonly can help! Chat with us to get started.