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No Words Required: When Iconography Works Better

Thursday, November 8th, 2012 by Ruth

When is the last time you encountered a road sign with the words “Curvy Road Ahead”? More than likely, you saw a sign like this instead:

This sign is highly effective. It’s clear the road ahead has twists and turns—and the squiggly arrow requires no translation.

In the business world, iconography can be just as effective at grabbing your attention and conveying big messages, simply. Take a look at these icons:

Now, match them to these one-word descriptions:

  • Security
  • Document
  • Growth
  • Checklist
  • Global
  • Like
  • File/Folder

Easy, right? This exercise helps underscore the point that iconography, when used judiciously, is a highly effective way to convey big ideas without using a single word.

Icons can be useful in all sorts of marketing communications. They can effectively identify repetitious sections within a long document—for example, a company product catalog could use icons for sections on features, functionality, benefits, and pricing. Icons also can be used to call attention to areas of interest or to add visual interest to documents that would otherwise have no imagery, like in this one-page partner document we recently created for SAP.

Call the Content Bureau if you need recommendations on iconography, or want to create a custom library for your unique messaging needs.

is a member of the Content Bureau editorial team.

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Beyond the Style Guide

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