Differences between an app icon and a logo

The first and foremost thing to distinguish, before creating an icon, is what exactly an app icon is and what are its functions. The role of an app icon is to provide a visual presentation of merchandise. It is basically a small element used for branding that has to exhibit attractiveness and also the soul of the product.

It is of high importance that a designer knows the difference between an app icon and a logo, because they are not at all one and the same thing. The only common trait they have is that both of them provide a level of branding for products. But both have their own set of rules. Logos are the elements of branding that are scalable and of a vector nature who’s designing has been done keeping in mind the letterheads and billboards. Icons are based on a square canvas and are typically raster outputs. Their job is to look adequately presentable in predefined sizes and settings. This is why they are different in terms of the equipment, the tactic and the success standards.

The Five Core Aspects

Now, we will be discussing the most desirable procedures to follow during the designing of app icons. Five core aspects will be featured and discussed in this post, including tips for the improvement of each key aspect in your design.


The first important aspect in an icons design is its scalability. This is due to the fact that an icon will be visible and presented at a variety of locations and in a variety of sizes. So it becomes vital that your design exhibits not only uniqueness but also legibility at every instance of encounter. From the app stores, to the devices, to the section of settings, the icon must maintain its integrity.

The designs that are complicated and crammed unnecessarily are also the ones that tend to exhibit poor scalability. It is of key importance that when the concept of the icon is being developed, its elegant scaling should receive prime focus.


  • Don’t rely only on a 1024×1024 pixel canvas. Make sure that the icon is tested in multiple environments.
  • Don’t try to overcomplicate but instead try to always keep it simple. Shift focus on primary elements.
  • Ensure that different backgrounds do not have adverse effects on the attractiveness of the icon.


An app icon is a visual song-like representation and hence an impressive icon will be easily identifiable from amongst its surroundings whether it is the app store or the home screen. And just as in the case of a song that the melody needs to be agreeable for the one who is listening, the shapes and colors and other elements of the icon also need to be agreeable for the viewer. The design needs to be highly memorable and should attract the viewer on functional and passionate fronts.

It must be bore in mind that your app’s icon is in competition with uncountable other icons, which all have made use of similar tools and technologies to ensure their uniqueness and memorability. Scalability matters a lot when it comes to recognition of the icon, but so does originality. It is crucial that a balance is formed with these two characteristics.


  • Flat and overly complex icons are the worst for recognition. Often it is better to eliminate details as it makes the icon more recognize-able.
  • Make various versions of your design and view them all at once in order to identify eye-catching features.
  • Decompose the icons that you like and analyze the features that made you like them and the underlying practices that achieved them.


It is at times undermined how important it is for the interaction with the icon and the features of the app itself to resonate with each other. This is termed as consistency between the experiences. An impressive icon design does not stray from the app, but instead related to it and its function. By ensuring that these two go well with each other, the experience for the user will be made highly memorable.

Creating a lustrous, consistent branding of your app ensures that the user exhibits high product satisfaction and also retains the image as impressive. The summary of this is that it is a job well done when your icon resonates with the integrity and operation of your application.


  • A simple practice to achieve consistency among the app and the icon is to use similar color combinations and also the design language.
  • It is best recommended that the icon’s elements and symbols map straight onto the functional features of the app itself. This is not always conceivable but should be considered where possible.


This does not even need to be stated, but it is important that the icon has uniqueness in its elements. A specific style or fashion can be used as a reference, but originality is a must. This is because there is competition amongst thousands of icons and uniqueness makes one icon stand out from the rest.

Achieving uniqueness is no easy task, and is tricky. This is so because the preferences and practices of others are involved who are up to the same type of tasks.


  • Analyze and evaluate all the existing competition and identify a different direction for yourself. This research is important.
  • Innovation is vital. You need to identify new patterns and referrals to use in your icon that are both unique yet clever.
  • Color usage can be enhanced to completely redesign a concept and it should not be disregarded.

Avoid Using Words

This can be a real nuisance. It is okay to use words in an icon ONLY on the most exceptional of instances. If you feel that you need to use a written word then most probably it means that you are not fully exploiting the pictorial resource.

Words and pictures are both used to visually represent an idea but by clustering them together, an undesirable effect of jumbled and messed up ideas is obtained. The whole representation tends to become blurred vague, which is harder to interpret. Using words reinforces the idea that there was no other better way to visually represent the whole product, and this practice must only be resorted to when its true.