Mobile App Icon Design: Turning it from Good to Better

Developing, testing, and launching a mobile app in the Philippines is hard and tedious, but getting the functionalities right and executing the proper, working user interface isn’t actually the end of the job. Creating a mobile app is also a creative process, and content is important in helping your app stand out. Among these content, your app icon might be the most “iconic” aspect of them all.

If you’re really going to go all out on a new app, make sure to put attention into your app icon. In the same vein, keep in mind that your app icon is NOT the same as a logo so one must approach them differently, even almost completely separately if need be. Here are some app icon design considerations to bump yours up from good to awesome.



On top of the list is the overall aesthetic of your app. The design will be the deciding factor if your app is going to be memorable or not. It has to have a proper mix of a lot of things that set it apart but also keep it familiar.

  • It could somehow communicate the function it performs
  • The icon is the unified reflection of the whole app’s aesthetic (especially for games)
  • It must not be too busy or cluttered
  • But it also must not be overly simplistic
  • Keep it scalable; regardless of design, it must look good as a small image (which is what it will be majority of the time)

Monument Valley; Ustwo Games, 2014


How do you turn a good icon design awesome?

Have a target audience in mind and cater elements to suit the target audience. If it’s meant to stand out to children, choose bright colors and include friendly characters. If it’s meant to be a gender-specific app, give it curvy or edges shapes depending on what gender it should appeal to. If it’s a food app, make sure it can evoke a sense of craving. In short, your icon has to create a certain degree of emotional response. In some cases, some designs even rely on nostalgia to get the emotion train going.



At the heart of design are two things: shapes and, of course, colors. In almost any circumstance, the general rule (or measure of quantitative wellness) is always “more is better.” When it comes to design, especially in icon creation, we’d go so far as to say that the opposite may be true.

  • Fewer colors give your branding better recall
  • Sticking to a well-picked color pallet unifies your design
  • If you can’t be limited to few colors, make sure all the colors that are present are necessary
  • Compliment busy color schemes with minimalist designs

Snapseed; Google, 2011


Afterlight; Afterlight Collective Inc, 2018

How do you turn a good color scheme better?

Check your logo against different backgrounds. To make your icons scheme look more kickass, it should just be able to be good-looking as a standalone icon, and it has to be good-looking in majority of the environments it will be in, like on a screen!



Branding might be one of your best bets at setting your icon apart from others. This works both for one-app wonders as well as for developers with multiple apps, with both of them having different advantages over the other. Especially for the development hyper-local mobile apps (like Angkas for the Philippines), branding can be utilized to also appeal to the target audience.

  • One-app wonders can focus completely on the branding of the app itself
  • Multi-app developers need to streamline their logo design or overlay the developer’s logo on each icon
  • Avoid using words (letters or symbols are ok) on the icon. Again, an icon is not a logo.
  • Letters, glyphs, predominant symbols, and characters are good developing point for branding

Facebook; 2004

[adult swim] games

How do you turn the branding on your app’s icon better?

If you must, reassess and modify details WITHIN the app to inversely cater it to your icon design. It might not sound like much, but if a user can associate the full experience with your app, you succeed at evoking emotional response even with just your icon being constantly seen on the user’s home screen.


Standing Out

Let’s face it: there are just too many mobile apps out there. More or less, when you try to make a mobile app, it’s very possible that you’re going to compete for popularity from very similar apps in the same category. Not only that, you could be designing your icon almost too similarly as well.

  • Design with a target audience or purpose in mind
  • Your icon might look a little similar, but that’s just part of conforming to familiar standards

Fitness apps in Google Playstore

How do I make my icon standout better?

Design standards + still being different

For one, you need to make sure it doesn’t look too far off from what is regarded as normative in your app’s category. You wouldn’t want your recipe app to look like a food-related gaming app, nor would you want a puzzle solving app look like it’s meant for wellness or productivity. Strike a good balance between the thin line popular standard and unique design.

It’s one thing to develop a flawless mobile app in the Philippines that doesn’t have bugs, works perfectly, and is easy to use. It’s another thing to make it get noticed by users especially in the increasingly growing industry of mobile app development and the competition that comes along with it. With the proper knowledge, however, you can make something simple that completely yells your branding, and turn it iconic.