USGBC recently completed a brand refresh, and one of the follow-up tasks was to create an icon image set for the marketing team to use in emails and article feature images. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of my thought process and graphic design techniques. If you’re working on a similar project, keep these tips in mind.
1. Ask the right questions.
When creating an icon set, it’s important to consider what sorts of messages you would like to communicate. What kinds of images are repeated throughout your organization’s marketing pieces? What themes are being communicated? I found that some common themes throughout USGBCs marketing include health, environmentalism, technology, education and business.
2. Assemble your basic graphics.
I started by collecting inspiration through different icons and graphics that might be useful to the USGBC marketing team—mainly focusing on graphics that evoke environmentalism or that have flora and fauna themes. I then exported them to my tablet, and brought them into the illustration app ProCreate, where I was then able to hand-illustrate each icon. This allowed the icons to have a more organic look.
3. Create consistent styles.
Once I had hand-drawn all the graphics, I exported them as JPEG files and brought them into Illustrator, where I used the “image trace” function. This function allows you to take raster images (JPEG, PNG, PSD) and convert them into vector artwork. From there, I was able to separate and place each graphic onto a circle, using colors from the new USGBC style guide. I made sure that all the graphics were similar in size by designing them on the same page and lining them up, to give them more consistency.
By creating and not purchasing the icon set, USGBC can stand out among similar organizations and create unique marketing pieces. These icons will also keep our branding consistent throughout all of our media, and will help us create a stronger brand identity and recognition.