Mail = A6 envelope. Chat = speech balloon. Search = magnifying glass.
When creating icon systems, designers exploit our familiarity with commonplace physical and lingual metaphors. They are universal, pervasive within our culture.
However, by tying ourselves so closely to such analogies—both when considering individual icons and icons that may represent a corporate brand as part of a logotype—we contend with the wide range of meanings that others have already exploited in the world.
With this challenge, you’ll explore what happens when you mold three of these everyday icons to a uniquely tailored use.
Your alma mater has hired you to redesign their campus-wide email, chat, and bulletin board systems. As part of this redesign, they would like you to create unique icons that represent Mail, Chat, and Search.
In 30 minutes, create these icons. They must immediately convey to any student, faculty, or staff member that the functionality is affiliated with the school—but without directly integrating any existing official crest, seal, or logo within the icon.
If you want to take it further, design the key screens for Mail, Chat, and Search as part of a school-provided mobile application.
Want more challenges? The first 24 pages of Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills are available free on Scribd.