IBM's Smarter Planet Icons are More Cute than Useful

IBM Smarter Planet icons

I came across these interesting icons on IBM's site today, which are all part of creating a smarter planet, whatever that means. I'm trying to decide what I think of them.

While they are quirky and interesting to look at, most of them don't convey any sort of meaning, which I believe is an important component of a good icon.

Nor do they scale very well, as you can see from their use in the mega menu below:

IBM Smarter Planet icons

What's also interesting is that many of these icons have avoided following any conventions for how certain icons should look. For example, the security icon does not include a representation of a lock and the analytics icon does not use any kind of graph or chart in its design.

I imagine that they represent part of a larger branding initiative, which you can see when you click through to a page represented by an icon. However, it's questionable whether this is more important than actually making the icons useful.

At the end of the day, these icons are clever but are they any good?

Posted on: March 15, 2011 | 10 Comments

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10 Comments Posted

I agree, I'd have to keep referring to a legend in order to know what each symbol meant. There's seems to be no clear order behind these.

I agree. These are very juvenile. They could've done a much better job and created a more professional look. Clever yes...effective?...not really.

- Chicago Graphic Designers, Integraphix
http://www.integraphix.com

These are adorable! I'd love to use them and simply memorize them. I am not a designer though, I am a divorce attorney...so my opinion may not mean much! Thanks for the fun post!

Wow! As much fun as those little colorful dots are, I don't think I would be inclined to support the use of them at all.

From what I understand, if you have to put a descriptive next to a icon, the icon is really not doing a very good job. I don't want to learn a new code or method every time I use a new product, so let's do some user acceptance testing with these. If they are trying to create a smarter planet, then start with the icons! :-)

Umm...they look like colorful splotches of ink to me when scaled down. No good.

I agree, although nice looking, as icons they're worthless - they don't, at-a-glance, tell you what they are.

I agree icons are ok but can't say, You'd used nice stuff I hope it will work somehow.

I think those icons look a bit weird to tell you the truth. Poor old IBM ...

No we can't say icons look weird or not a bit, but icon looks defeating somewhere.

Thats a really good idea. check out what we do @digitaldesignzmedia.com

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