Your icon is the face of your app, and in many instances your business brand. All your hard developmental work and hours boil down to tiny a little square. Creating an awesome icon is pretty well recognised as the best thing you can do for app store optimisation (ASO).
- What is ASO?
- How to create the perfect app store icon
What is App Store Optimisation (ASO)?
ASO is the method of optimising mobile apps to rank higher in an app store’s search results. The higher the app ranks in an app store’s search results, the more visible and likely that is will appeal to potential customers. This increased visibility should translate into either more traffic to your app’s webpage within the app store and or subsequent downloads of the app itself.
With more than half a million apps on both the iTunes Store and Google Play Store, users have less and less time to make the decision of downloading your app or not. Users browse or search through the app stores and their first (visual, at least) impression of your app is your app icon and not what the app does.
This makes it crucial for your app marketing efforts, along with the fact that you’re probably going to be using that icon in a lot of online and mobile places (your app website, your app press releases, even you own website).
Having a unique app icon that stands out doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get thousands of downloads or that your app is truly great. Yet a pioneering app icon will aid in getting interested users to explore your app in more depth, read your app description and screenshots and hopefully actually download and begin using it!
So how do you create an awesome app icon?
Creating the perfect app store icon
Make it unique so it stands out
This is easier said than done. However, it remains one of the core functions of your icon — to differentiate yourself and get the user to tap your app over others.
There are over one million apps in the app stores — it is highly unlikely that you’re going to be the only business offering your product or solution. Your competitors are thinking the same. So how do people know that you have the best app for their needs compared to others? Simply put, your icon.
Ensure you hire a top mobile app developer that is not only able to create a first-class app but someone who is a specialist in online design regarding branding and logo design.
Don’t be afraid to change things
Don’t make huge changes to your app icon design, but merely subtle ones that reflect that your app is constantly updating with enhancements and features. A popular way to do this is seasonal changes, for example adding a santa hat to your logo icon during Christmas celebrations or adding a witches’ hat during Halloween.
Changing your app icon just a little bit is a great way to reinvigorate downloads.
Branding your icon
If you have a strong brand value then simple branding is a great way to go. But never forget, keep it simple. Top brands themselves are easily searchable and don’t require engaging app icons because the trust in the company is stronger than the app.
But what if you are not a multi-million dollar company? Then ensure that your app icon and branding remain similar. For example — colour codes, mascot, fonts (if any) — your app should familiarise searchers with your brand otherwise they will question its validity.
Another key point to note is that ensure your brand and app icon are flexible so you can adapt it to various different settings (see point above). If you don’t have this design dynamism then your app will not have possible future opportunities to be reinvigorated.
An apps icon design can age quickly, so ensure you take this into consideration when designing your icon. Branding your icon should reflect the UX/UI of your product so that the user can easily understand that if they download, they can use the app immediately and easily.
Try brand piggy-backing
Without copying other brands designs another great way to obtain recognition with a target audience is to ‘mimic’ another brand. (Without breaking the law, so proceed with caution).
Successful brands have built their identities which app users lock into and engage over and over again. Ask yourself, why did that brand choose such a design? Hence if your target clientele is similar to a brand explore similar fonts, colours, icons and how it can best represent your brand identity and subsequently, your app icon.
If brand piggy-backing is done correctly, then app searchers will engage with your app because it is similar enough to get recognition and forge a link with a niche identity they wish to be part of. A point of caution — if it looks too similar then you may get accidental downloads with users thinking you were another brand. For example, our own icon appears to be a similarly designed logo to Apple.
When creating your app take consideration into the following:
- Don’t use words; you have your app name for that and besides, they got lost in smaller sizes.
- Keep it simple, boil down your app to one simple thing as details also become lost in smaller sizes.
- Don’t make your logo transparent. It’ll reduce legibility and makes it obscure.
- Don’t make your icon glossy — it’ll make a lot of it invisible to searchers.
- Design with details — your icon should look great full screen.
- Make your icon consistent with your app (and brand logos), so that your users remember you. If you require several apps ensure you use the same concept and maintain consistency.
- Add a border, so once your app is downloaded its app icon looks nice on all backgrounds.
- Be innovative, but remember to keep it simple!
Your App Store/Play Store icon is a really important cog of your business. It is a small window of opportunity you have to grab the attention of App Store browsers and convince them that your screenshots, your promotional video, your description and eventually downloading your app are all worth it to them.
There is no winning formula for what makes an excellent or badly designed App Store icon. What is key is that you generate enough interest to initially stand out. Your app icon should reflect your products’ offering, and that app icon enhancements and adjustments can be made in the future.