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App icon – the gateway to app branding

| Category: General    

If you have the question, does your app icon contribute to the number of downloads and the popularity it gets? The direct answer will be - “Yes, it definitely does!”

With more than 1 million apps in the app store and the Google Play store, the importance of a very attractive and unique icon, has come to the fore. A great icon can be the difference between no downloads and first few hundred downloads if not thousands of downloads. Let me ask you directly, how many times you have skipped an app, because of the icon. I know and I do.

The reason is the app stores are crowded with hundreds of apps for any given task. And it has become tricky to stand out in the crowd. People have also become picky and you have to go all out to make your app get installed and the starting point for this is to have a great icon. No matter, how wonderful your app is, an unattractive icon can be a turn off to the customer.

What makes a great icon?:-

A great icon should be simple, eye-catchy and aesthetically designed and it should convey the main task or purpose it is built for. It should make an impression that lasts long enough for the customer to download and install. You should choose colors and textures that are compatible and consistent with the overall look and feel of the app.

Let’s hear it from the expert; Eric Wroolie, creator of Ear Spy from Overpass Apps said in an interview ,“In terms of design, I think most developers think of it as an afterthought, but it is one of the key reasons people download and keep your app. They spend so much for a stylish phone, and they aren't going to ruin the style by putting on an app with an ugly icon.”

The icon should be clear and concise. When creating the icon, you need to make sure to make it to a size that will suit mobile devices, can be downloaded and will look good. Test your app icon on a number of devices in different sizes to check before publicly launching the app. An app icon should be able to effectively convey the app’s main purpose with just one glance. Try to avoid putting in too many details, so as not to make it look cluttered. Focus on a unique shape and avoid a lot of text, although, this would not be applicable to game apps. You should also have in mind that the devices come many different resolutions and screen sizes. So the icon should be designed with these details also in mind. A great icon should look good on all the devices.

With icons you have to be different from the rest, not only because you are different from other brands, but because you want to be immediately recognized by the audience your app, and not get confused with another brand. Your icon need not be your brand’s logo. The reason I say this, is because you will be creating more than one app. (By the way a statistic information says that you should be creating a minimum of 7 apps to have any chance of app success) your icon’s main objective is to not to represent your company but to represent the content and functionality of the app. Keep to your brand’s style, colors, shapes, lines, font and so forth but build a different icon for every app. Till now, we were really concerned with how to make a great icon, but a famous scholar once said, the most correct thing you can do is not doing anything wrong. So to create a great icon, we also need to know what are the pitfalls we need to avoid while designing. the most correct thing you can do is not doing anything wrong. So to create a great icon, we also need to know what are the pitfalls we need to avoid while designing.

Below are some tips that will help you to avoid ending with a bad icon:-

1)Using photos. Instead use Illustrations, they look much better.
2)Using a lot of text. It’s better to use a symbol in your logo and nothing more.
3)Inaccurate elements. The right combination of colors and simple shapes makes icons look clean.
4)Mirror reflections.
5)Inconsistent shadows.
6)Skeuomorphism (unless it’s really great)

Another important work to do while designing an icon is, to compare and know the current trends in the market. Have a detailed study on the icons used by your competitors and the market leaders. This would give a fair idea on what is expected by the customer. Icon – is not just an icon, but it is your gateway to your total app branding. Have this in mind when you design.

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