How To Make Your App Icon Stand Out: 5 Effective Tips

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Are you about to embark on the adventure that is the design of your first ever app icon? Perhaps it’s high time to revisit the old saying not to judge a book by its cover. In the rapidly changing and dynamic world of web design, first impressions can easily be the last impressions.

Therefore, you need to make sure your app icon represents you phenomenally. With years of experience in the field of web design, we at Fireart Studio have had the chance to work with a lot of different clients. This enabled us to receive serious client and user feedback, especially when it comes to important brand identity materials such as icons.

Of course, you shouldn’t take our word for it, you can take a look at some of our work — it speaks for itself.

Having said this, we also believe in delivering untapped value to our readers and, of course, our clients. That’s why we’ve taken the liberty to explore the topic of app icon design and how to make it pop out amid the turbulent competition.

Principles to Consider for App Icon Design

Right off the bat, you’d have to understand that everything in the field of web design comes with certain principles. Previously, we’ve looked at some of the pillars for UI design and now, we’ll tap into the fundamentals of app icon design.

In short, these are the things you’d have to keep at the top of your head:

  1. Scalability
  2. Recognizability
  3. Consistency
  4. Uniqueness
  5. No words

An icon needs to scale properly, while it also needs to be recognizable. It has to be consistent with your overall brand-building strategy, while also unique on its own. And, of course, no words — that’s a must.

Most of these speak for themselves, so let’s go ahead and jump right to the tips of creating an app icon that will stand out.

Tip #1 Simplicity is Important But Not at All Costs


Everyone’s always talking about how app icons have to be simple and straight to the point. That’s true. Well, for the most part.

It’s not necessary to sacrifice your brand’s uniqueness in order to create a simple app icon design. Instead, take an extra step forward and think outside of the box. If your brand has certain strong brand-building elements, perhaps you can re-touch them and convert them into self-explaining symbols.

Not only can this serve you good for when you’re working on an icon of your iOS application design, for example, but it an also provide an additional marketing tool — something additional to leverage on your users. Symbols are powerful, especially when they are memorable. Take advantage of that.

As an established UI design studio, we always attempt to go the extra mile. This allows us to capitalize on bright ideas, which is especially important for the process of app icon design.  

Tip #2 Quality Has to be Outstanding

If you can look the other way when it comes to simplicity, you can’t afford this when it comes to quality.

Quality has to be outstanding. Period. This is true for every single element of your app icon design — from its background colors to its main elements. Everything has to be not only perfectly aligned but also matched so that every detail pops up exactly as much as it’s needed.

Tip #3 Convey Emotions

Think of an app right now. Which one did you think of? It’s perhaps one which you associated with certain emotions. That’s how our brains work.

Emotions are a very prominent catalyst and conveying them is challenging. So, how can you convey emotions through something so simple and relatively small as an app icon?

There’s no right answer to this question. You start by identifying your target audience and the problems you want to solve for them. Then, you go ahead and associated every design idea which can represent this solution. That’s how you convey emotions — you depict a solution before the user has even started using your app. Even better — you solve a problem before the user realizes he has a problem.

It’s challenging, but you know what they say — the difference between good and great is just a small step forward that someone failed to take.

Tip #4 Look at Others

The field of application development, be it for desktop or mobile, is one that’s seeing turbulent competition. And that’s a good thing. It means there’s demand.

You can’t imagine how many times we’ve heard our clients worrying about the increasing competition.

As it is with everything in business, you need to take advantage of every detail, including competitors. Take a look at what your rivals are doing and better it.

The same is true for app icon design. Our experience has taught us that nothing reveals more than a competition. By analyzing what your competitors are doing you can find their weak spots and exploit them. For instance, when you see a well-made app icon, you want to learn from it. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why is it successful?
  • What’s the main theme of the icon?
  • How can I improve it?

Answering those questions, and others alike will provide you with solid grounds for your brainstorming sessions, which will give birth to your ideas.

Tip #5 Be Bold, Be Brave


This is something we like to tell all of our clients. In an ever-changing environment, you can’t afford to be static. You have to be brave and bold and take advantage of new opportunities.

When there’s a trend, run with it. If there’s no identifiable trend — try to create one. The same is true for icons.

Look at what’s popular and do it. People like familiarity. Hence, it’s your responsibility to make sure your icon is relatable. When there’s a trend, people relate to it. Capitalize on this.

In addition, you’d also want to think outside of the box. If you can do something different, even if it’s just a simple element — take advantage of it. Use it. Don’t be afraid.


There’s no right way to design an app icon. Following the above principles will ensure that you’re doing a proper job, but you have to do what’s unique for your app itself.

If you want us to give you a hand when it comes to the design of your app icon, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Or, if you simply need some questions answered — we’re here for you!

Posted by News Monkey