#634 Meaning at a Glance

The marketing minute is a shorter version of the popular More than a Few Words podcast. Instead of a conversation with a marketing professional Lorraine Ball shares a quick tip to start your week,

My husband and I took a trip through Central Europe. In the span of two weeks we were in three different countries with three different currencies and three different languages. Neither my husband or I speak Czech, German or Hungarian. But we managed to navigate bus, train and boat transportation with ease.

How did we do it? Almost everywhere we went. The directional signs included simple icons which conveyed their meaning at a glance. As I sipped my espresso in the sidewalk café I thought about how this same strategy of simple meaningful graphics applies to any business, even if you are not serving a global audience.

Why? Because your brain can process images 60,000 times faster than it can process words. Whether you're running through a train station, or surfing a website an image conveys an idea or an emotion in an instant. And so if you're thinking about adding icons to your marketing or website, here are a couple of quick rules. First, keep the graphic simple. Second, create a consistent style set. So all of your icons look like they're part of a family. And finally, test for meaning. Don't assume your icon communicates what you think it does. Show it to people and see if they understand the meaning and the intention behind the icon.

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