The Icon System developed over the course of three years at Edinburgh Napier University is a testament to the impact that icons can have on the visual language of an organization.
Initially, the icons were small elements that helped decode various aspects of university life and made plain text materials more visually appealing. They were designed to quickly and effectively depict abstract or complex ideas and guide the viewer’s attention to important information. Over time, these icons evolved into recognizable and essential branding elements, growing into subject- and use-specific icon families.
In addition to serving as a branding tool, the Icon System has also been used to create more complex illustrations and infographics for digital media and motion graphics. The basic form of the system is included as a library on the university’s Brand Hub.The Icon Library currently consists of several categories of icons, including general university icons, subject-specific university icons, Moodle icons, Covid icons, and Research Centers icons (in development). Each set of icons is designed to accurately and effectively communicate information specific to its purpose.
Wider context of the project:
Iconography is the study and interpretation of the visual images and symbols used in various art forms, such as painting, sculpture, and graphic design. In visual arts, iconography plays a significant role in conveying meaning and shaping the overall visual language of a work of art. Icons can be used in different contexts, such as religious, cultural, historical, and political, to communicate specific messages and themes.
In design context, iconography plays a crucial role in creating a visual language that is consistent, recognizable, and memorable. Icons are used in various design elements, such as logos, websites, apps, and product packaging, to help simplify and clarify information for the user. A well-designed icon system can make a design more accessible and intuitive, by using simple, recognizable symbols to convey complex ideas or information. Effective use of iconography in design requires careful consideration of the context, meaning, and cultural implications of the icons being used, as well as a clear understanding of the target audience and their needs. By combining simplicity, clarity, and cultural relevance, icons in design can play a key role in creating a strong visual identity for a brand or product.