Logos, Icons and avatars

The Difference

Olabanji Stephen
3 min readFeb 2, 2021

You probably don’t know the difference between a logo, an icon, an averter, and their usage. So, let’s explore these over the next few articles, starting with the basics.

A logo is a graphic mark or a symbol, mostly made of text and images to identify a business or a product. From the definition, you know that although a logo does many things, its primary purpose is to IDENTIFY. I’ll tell you the history later. Facebook is a great example.

An icon is a visual representation of an idea or a concept (more like an ideogram). An article by Subsign in 2016 said, “We use icons to bridge the understanding of abstract analogies and practical use”. There are certain rules that guide the design and usage of icons. This usually depends on the universal principles and the visual identity guide of the brand (which you will learn later in this series). A great example: When you see three arrows that seem to be following each other in a circle, you know it's communicating recirculation. In many cases, following the icon principles of the brand, the logo can also be a part of the brands' icons

Some of Facebook icons

An avatar is a brand icon that can move, change and operate freely in various media. — Marty Neumeier. More like the alter ego of a brand. The earliest use of the term is probably in gaming in 1979. The term was later (in 1985) used to represent the user’s identity onscreen in Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar.

Facebook avatar
Marty Neumeier, Neutron LLC

In the next chapter, I’ll write about logos. What they mean, how to use them, and most importantly, choosing the right one for your business or product. See you tomorrow.

By the way, it’s the 27th Day of the 100 days of productivity, shipping, and learning and this is my 27th article.



Olabanji Stephen

I see the world differently and attempt to interpret it in ways that inspire genius