Icon designs convey a message, it’s just that simple and not something you can avoid. Because of this, you want to make sure you’re appealing to the right people. Who the icon will appeal to, why it should appeal to them, and how you can begin highlighting the right features are three extremely important things to keep in mind.
A successful icon design hinges on understanding the importance of a target audience and acknowledging exactly what that audience looks like. If this goal is not accomplished, you will fail to produce tangible results through meaningful design.
It’s not uncommon to be unsure about this topic. Truly understanding who a brand should be targeting is a process, but you can bring yourself or your client closer to it by highlighting a few key aspects.
Everything Has a Target Audience
There is not a single product, company, or service that does not strive to reach a specific group of people. This could be as simple as women ages 20–29 or as complex as men who own suits but need proper fitting and fall into the age range of 30–50 year old.
No matter what the audience looks like, understand that the target audience is determined by finding out who is most likely to enjoy what you’re offering. This is not your only audience. I’ll explain that concept soon, but first you’ll need to understand how to begin finding the right audience.
Understand that even you have a target audience. There is a group of people who are attracted to what you project. This extends beyond companies and speaks to the inherent nature of people. The way you speak, the clothes you wear, and the types of activites you participate in affect who you appeal to.
Personify a brand and dig into it’s layers. You’ll begin to see exactly who you appeal to. This is where you find your target audience.
If You Don’t Know the Target Audience, Dig Deeper
A broad generalization such as “everybody!” isn’t realistic. If you default to saying something is for everyone, you haven’t spent enough time contemplating why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s simply not realistic that you’ll appeal to everyone in the world.
Find the group of people that are the most likely to stand behind what you’re doing and pursue their attention with laser focus. Other’s will come, but these are the people that remain loyal. A properly targeted audience will be your ambassadors, spreading the word about who you are; bringing others to you by the dozens.
To begin searching, here are a few questions to ask:
- Why does your brand matter?
- Who are you trying to attract?
- What do you want people to feel about your brand?
A Target Audience Isn’t the Only Audience
It’s a common misconception that a target audience will put you in a corner. Keep in mind that your product or service will appeal to a wide range of people. Finding your target audience simply gives you an understanding of the main group you should focus on.
It’s no secret that this blog appeals to icon designers, but I’ve also seen a fantastic response from people who aren’t interested in icon design specifically. I’m extremely happy to have both audiences but my focus remains the same, allowing decisions to be made easily and get content to you that matters.
This brings us to the final big question. How does this relate to icon design?
Professional Icons Directly Appeal to a Target Audience
Having all of the information about a target audience will directly impact design decisions. If a client is aware of their audience, you’re able to make icons that appeal to that audience. In return, you’ve now added value to that client’s brand by aiming directly at the consumer.
Understand that when I say brand, I’m not just referring to a logo. Every icon directly impacts the perception of a brand through style, color, cohesion, and subject matter. Though they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, everything from the main app icon for an app to the navigation icons inside of that app should be intentionally targeting an audience.
If your decision is to take focus off of the target audience and just make something that looks nice, understand that will have a massive impact. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, you’re going to appeal to an audience whether you like it or not. It’s not an option that can be ignored.
Take some time to find and understand the target audience. Doing so will allow you to design icons that attract the right audience. You’ll benefit the client’s brand (or your own) by providing tangible value that pushes them forward with loyal brand ambassadors.