In Graphic Design
Following my article UNDERSTANDING BASIC LOGO TERMINOLOGY I wanted to take a few steps deeper into graphic design. So the first look will be into iconography and how it relates to graphic design.
It may not seem like it, but iconography surrounds our daily lives. The icons play a special part in the world, keeping the flow of society consistent. As they have been interwoven into our lives we do not necessarily take notice of their importance, we may even see them as a given. The truth is that they are more a part of communication than we give them credit for.
What if I told you that without iconography we wouldn’t be able to navigate in the physical and digital world as easily as we do now?
As people, we learn to read and interpret the meanings of sentences based on sound and intention. This is very poetic and a huge advancement for societies. Giving ourselves a way to communicate, record important events, write down ideas, or send someone far away from you a letter. However, we are much better at processing visual information in a quick fashion than we are at taking in information from reading. In combination with the fact that we all speak different languages, it only made sense to begin using imagery for road signs, at train stations, and various other public places.
If you would like to read more on iconography then have a look at The Evolution of Iconography: How It’s Used in Graphic Design
How Icons Allow for Effective Communication
When we think about communication we tend to dismiss the fact that much of our communication is through symbols, body language, and general intuition. Effective communication is about understanding that in order to get your message across clearly you need to incorporate all the aspects of communication into a simplified expression.
It may seem like an impossible task but this is precisely what iconography does. It embraces the whole message but using it in the simplest form to convey the message. Iconography is used in a wide range of fields. If we have a look at something rather mundane like travelling to work every day we have hundreds of examples at our disposal. If you get into a car you will have all kinds of icons showing things like on/off buttons, heaters, and airconditioning to name just a few. Then we have trains and busses that show simplified maps of the various routes, restrooms, luggage areas, and so on.
At an airport or a coffee shop, wi-fi zones and so many more places where we use icons for communication. Most of all though in the digital world we find ourselves even more immersed in the world of iconography. App icons and emojis are just two of the most common examples. We are reliant on icons and designers to keep the message consistent and relatable.
Graphic Design, Logo Design, and Icons
I have written about graphic design and logo design many times over. Describing their value and importance in keeping a consistent brand image in conjunction with a concise brand message. They are elements that make difference in how your brand is perceived and how your audience will want to interact with your brand. I often look at logo design itself as part of the building blocks in the foundation of your brand. It has the responsibility to represent your brand, brand ideals, brand mission, and offerings. Then we have other branding requirements like favicons for websites, icons for apps, and a call-to-action. All using icons to utilize the space without overcrowding.
The icons and symbols need to be designed by someone and they are much more intricate to comprehend than it may seem at first. There is a reason why artists and designers specialize in such a field. We leave it up to them to make sense of the world for us.
A Practical Challenge
Embracing icons and iconography is how we are able to bring simplicity to complex ideas and brands. For example, our client Má Bakery embodies the ideals of a healthy, joyful, and wholesome lifestyles by contributing to personal wellness through the art and science of cannabis-infused (CBD) baked goods. This gives you a lot to draw from for inspiration. How do you which elements are important?
Let’s take a look at the name first Má Bakery. This tells you that it is a bakery, so why Má? Má is likely one of the oldest if not the oldest word for cannabis. It seems that there is evidence of reference to medical cannabis use and even woven into clothing. So the name pertains to the cultivation and medicinal aid the plant provides. While having a connection rooted in history. This gives us an idea of what kind of iconography can be used and telling us that our first element is cannabis as it is the main ingredient.
Looking at the whole picture we are able to see that wholesome, ethically sourced materials are also necessary. With a focus on creating cookies as the star attraction, we find that wheat and cookies are the next two elements in our iconography. In conclusion, we have wheat, cannabis, and cookies which need to simplify and brought together to create a logo. Our amazing senior graphic designer, Charl Nigrini, took this challenge head-on to create something rather beautiful.
Last but not least
Graphic designers, and most designers, have spent years cultivating the skills required to bring simplicity to the way we communicate with each other, as a crowd, and as consumers. A great deal of talent generally goes along with it but we know that these people work hard to create what we may take for granted. There is beauty in iconography, there is beauty in design.