iPhone App Logos: 10 of the Best and Worst
Designing an iPhone app logo poses a big marketing challenge. The logo must be creative enough to stand out from the crowd, yet clearly convey its function on the iPhone's diminutive screen. It also has to tie into a brand's Web site and other marketing collateral. All this in a thumbnail's worth of space. Here are some iPhone app logos that do the job well (and some that leave us wanting more than cute animals or screen clutter).
By Tom Kaneshige
September 28, 2009
Whole Foods Market Recipes
Too many developers simply cut an image out of existing marketing collateral and make it their iPhone app logo — even though it doesn't translate. But here's one case where it actually works. Whole Foods took the familiar fruit-shaped "O" in their name and turned it into an iPhone app logo. "It's about boiling it down to its essence," says CEO Steve Yamaguma of Design2Market, a graphic design firm in Silicon Valley.
Okay, we get it: an elephant never forgets. This app lets you take notes, snapshots and recordings. More than a million people use it. Sure, it's clever. But in the iPhone app world clarity rules. Swiping through your list of apps, will you remember its function?
Illustrations have become all the rage with iPhone app logos. Simple characters such as this little guy grab our attention. The drawing style also conveys a lot of information without taking up valuable space. A cartoonish, alien-looking armadillo staring inquisitively into a mysterious blue ball can only mean one thing: an adventure game.
Bug Spray – Ultrasonic
"Bright red feels like it's saying, 'error, don't take this one'," an iPhone user told researchers at Create with Context, a Silicon Valley research and design firm. The message: Don't use red in iPhone app logos. But CEO Steve Yamaguma of Design2Market says the color red can work in some cases, as with this Bug Spray app. "Fire colors give off action," he says, adding that red alerts people to a stopping action. "You don't want bugs."
Bunch of flashlights (Flashlight, iTorch, myLite Flashlight)
When you need to turn your iPhone into a flashlight, chances are you're in the dark. That's why these flashlight app logos are very clear about their function, so users can tap quickly. But when you_re searching the App Store, which one stands out? We like the one that looks like a flashlight.
RemotePad controls the mouse cursor of your desktop PC, so it's not surprising why the developer went with this logo. We're all familiar with the moving mouse cursor, and this logo shows it off here. But in thumbnail size, we oddly feel the urge to go snowboarding. It's a tree line in the snow, right? Yes, size matters (with logos.)
Robert Andrew Salon & Spa
Stylish type can be very meaningful, especially for a beauty salon and spa app. Yet the same logo in thumbnail size breaks one of the tenets of marketing: communication. The "R" and "A" initials run together, looking like chicken scratch (not the image the salon was shooting for, we're guessing). "The script is simply unreadable," says CEO Steve Yamaguma of Design2Market.
ExamMaster AFQT Review
An iPhone app logo is not the place to cut corners. "If it was a poorly designed icon, I'd go right past it," an iPhone user told researchers at Create with Context in a study that found that the initial perception of app quality is largely influenced by icon design. We're betting someone at WebMetrics Software (makers of ExamMaster AFQT Review) slapped the name onto a clip art image of the world and called it an iPhone logo. Most people look at their iPhone more than 40 times a day. Would you want this logo mucking up your iPhone?
Friday Night Cranks - Official App
Can you say "cluttered"? One of the biggest mistakes developers make when designing their iPhone app logos (besides not using a graphic designer) is that they try to fit too much into a tiny space. The end result: nothing is readable. We're guessing this app for a popular Internet prank call show appeals to the younger generation, but even so, can their eyes be that good?
This funny spin on the near-universal bathroom sign accomplishes the two main goals of any iPhone app logo: Grab attention and clearly show the app's function. Have2P, of course, helps you locate nearby restrooms. The only criticism we have is that the logo has blue lines spraying in every direction, like running water. Now that's just plain evil.