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Icon Design–Taking Hints from Paul Rand

I’ve been checking  out the Paul Rand web site. For those who don’t know Paul Rand was a graphic design who helped to design some of the world’s most famous and iconic advertising and logos. He was responsible for IBM’s logo, NeXT computers logo, and the American Express logos. On the Paul Rand web site they have published some of the presentations he prepared for these companies.

What is fantastic is they go some way to explain the design process Paul Rand used and they show someone searching for simplicity of design and ease of communication.

So I wanted to go back and revisit my Icon, and see if I could make it any more simple. Below is a selection of Icons I have produced to date:


As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts what I' am trying to do is use an 88 pixel by 88 pixel image not only as the icon for the application, but also as a way to advertise the features that the application offers. These are: News, RSS Feeds, Customisation, Speed.

The RSS Logo is as follows you’ve probably seen this in the address bar of your browser, this one was taken from my browser.


As you can see from my original icon designs above I’ve used the RSS feed as an image on the newspaper. I’ve used the newspaper graphic as a way to communicate news. One of things I saw from Paul Rand’s site was that he was not afraid to use words to communicate with. In fact in some of his identity presentation books he spends a lot of time thinking about the text, and the way the text is presented on the screen.

Could I use the RSS Icon in a more affective way?

Another thing that struck me when viewing Paul Rand’s site was this:


The rhombus stands out in a sea of squares...”, from the Amex Identity Presentation.

Interesting. You can compare this directly to the icon screen on many smart phone screens. A see of squares is certainly what you do see. So this is a shape I should avoid.

I mentioned this originally the Running Man symbol for Headlines was chosen because I wanted to convey speed, as if you where running through the headlines quickly and easily. I’d like to keep this.

So now I’ve gathered a set of requirements for my new Icon:

1. It should contain the RSS logo
This is a well known symbol that most people will have seen in their web browsers before

2. It should contain the running man symbol
As this is used throughout Headlines and communicates speed

3. It should communicate “News” in some way
RSS can be used for many things, by overstating the “News” I can communicate the message of the application more clearly

4. It should not be square
As it will have to stand out in a sea of other icons and logos

5. It has to be 88 pixels by 88 pixels

Now all I need is to get to it!

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