Sometimes there’s a bit of confusion about the difference between an icon and a logo, and why it’s so important that you not use them interchangeably. Each serve a specific purpose, and while they may sometimes look alike, the intention behind them is very different….so today we’re breaking it down for you!


Icons are meant to convey abstract thought and they artistically summarize an action or operation-  they represent what is being offered. When people see it, the icon should create an immediate understanding of what the creator/business/website means to express. It helps the viewer to simplify thought and make fast connections.

In the instance of mobile apps, most organizations choose the symbol part of their logo, or often a defining feature of their brand or service they provide, to be the icon. This way they remain instantly recognizable.

Technical Difference:
Icons are almost always designed quadratically and are designed to scale within specific dimensions. This way they fit square App icon dimensions, and/ or help provide consistency when designing actions on a website. They generally remain very small.

For example:

Screen Shot 2017-01-24 at 1.21.40 PM

On our website, our menu for internal pages has identifying icons, to help direct visitors to what they they are looking for. On our services hub page, there are even more icons next to our offerings. These can help a client further differentiate what they want to know more about. Here are other icon examples that we see every day:




Logos establish relations, and help viewers create a connection between company and product- it is essentially a simplified ad! Logos are the symbol, or face, of the organization. They should inspire an immediate recognition of a the company’s brand, core values, products and services. They can even provoke emotions regarding the quality of customer service, the cultural significance of the brand, etc. A logo is a powerful representation of your business. It conveys a much larger message than an icon!

Technical Difference:
While logos can certainly be formed within a rectangle or square shape, the intent behind a logo is to establish brand identity everywhere. It can be scaled very large to fit a billboard, down to fit on employee name tags- and everywhere in between! Logos are created with these possible size changes in mind, so there is no compromise of clarity or message when used, whether it’s on T-shirts or vehicle wrapping.

Logo Examples:

The one thing they have in common; icons and logos alike should always be designed as vectors, so that they never lose quality when resized for various needs!

Still confused? Need help designing a true logo? We’ve got your back.
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