The best brand icons are simple, distinct, and used hyper-consistently over a long period of time.
Strong icons make their brands instantly and unmistakably recognizable—even in black & white applications. Nothing else is needed. Not even the brand name. There are many examples of strong brand icons. Some that immediately come to mind include:
- Apple’s bitten apple
- Coke’s bottle silhouette
- Mercedes’ three-point star
- Pepsi’s globe
- Chanel’s double Cs
- Disney’s Mickey Mouse ears
- Twitter’s bird
- Adidas’ three stripes
- NBC’s peacock
- Amazon’s arrow w/smile
As great as these examples are—and the many more I didn’t mention—I believe the all-time best brand icons belong to McDonald’s, Nike, Target, and Starbucks. So I decided to conduct a poll…
Somewhat to my surprise, the poll was essentially a two-horse race. A staggering 95% of the votes went to McDonald’s and Nike, with the former coming out the clear winner.
According to this one poll, McDonald’s golden arches is the most iconic brand icon. The simple shape of the “M” was inspired by the architectural arches that framed the first McDonald’s restaurant. It is recognized globally by everyone down to three-year-old toddlers. These aren’t traditional arches. There’s a softness and a tasty quality to them. The arches symbolize strength and authority, but there’s also a creativity to this design that gets you salivating (they look like little french fries).
Beyond the shape, the color is also brilliant. It attracts attention. Yellow, or gold, is the most visible color in daylight. That’s why we can see the McDonald’s “M” from a distance. And the use of red in background applications triggers appetites. There is also a deeper meaning to these colors far beyond their visibility. A golden opportunity lay hidden inside the golden color, as it alludes to the idea that owning a McDonald’s is like owning your very own gold mine. Plus, the primary colors resemble the ultimate burger-and-fries condiments: ketchup and mustard.
As I stated at the beginning, the best brand icons are simple, distinct, and used hyper-consistently over a long period of time.
Strong icons make their brands instantly and unmistakably recognizable. McDonald’s golden arches are as good of an example as there is.
These are my thoughts on how organizations can create stronger brands to connect more strongly with their target audiences. I would love to hear yours.
Thanks for reading.
p.s. If you’d like to connect more strongly with your target audience, I’d love to help. Please message me at Todd@LINKTrainingAndConsulting.com, or call me at (513) 240-8383New Paragraph