The power of symbols
If we use symbols with different styles for the same purpose, we violate their consistency. On the web, we can find icon sets, whose icons have slightly different, inconsistent styles that lower the value of the whole set. Especially three-dimensional symbols or icons can have many parameters, which can be hard to preserve: rotation angle, scale, form, colors and shading, shadows and many others. Consistency is easier to achieve with two-dimensional symbols as you can see on the figure above.
When a duplicate is found, a symbol is no longer distinguishable. The task of making one unique gets harder, the more symbols are created. But the effort is worthy if the symbol can be eye-catching and more memorable. We need to research if a symbol is reserved, whether it can speak to our audience meaningfully and what we want to express through it.
When we step back and look at a symbol from a distance, it should still remain clear and crisp, no matter the context it is placed in. Simple forms that are at the same time different contribute to such clarity.
Symbols awake our emotions when we look at them. We may want to examine how the audience perceives them and responds to them. Feelings can vary from joy and happiness to anger or fear, so must must define in advance the effect we want to achieve through them. Testing with a small group of people is a good, cost-effective way to do that.
Where can we use these characteristics?
Possibilities are unlimited—in branding, marketing, industrial design, print design, web design and more.