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Best App Icon Examples to Inspire You

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Illustrations
February 12, 2024
8
min

Table of Contents

Need a little design inspiration for creating an awesome app icon? Here are some of the best icon examples and what makes them impactful. 

There’s an app for everything these days, meaning that when customers head over to their App Store or Google Play, your app will have a lot of competition to beat.

Functionality and ease of use are by far the most important considerations for the long-term success of any app. However, it’s the design of the app icon that might entice a number of users to try it out.

Here are 20 outstanding app icon examples, from some well-known favorites to creative app icon inspiration ideas. We’ve split them into several categories, so finding a design style that matches your brand is easier.

Symbols and graphics

If you want your app icon design to quickly convey what the app is all about, using a recognizable symbol or image is a good idea. Of course, remember to keep the details to a minimum, as this will ensure graphically designed images are clear and recognizable even in small sizes.

Opto VPN Security

Keys and shields are popular symbols in all sorts of security logos, and they can also make a very good app icon. This modern design uses a simple outline illustration paired with a sleek, gradient background. Since blue is supposed to be a color that inspires trust, it’s an excellent choice for an online security app.

opto vpn app icon
Muhammad Toriqul Alam Murad

Instagram

Who remembers the old days of Instagram (those sepia filters are Instagram content that lives forever in my heart)? Then, you probably recollect the “retro” app icon of a polaroid camera.

Instagram’s new look is definitely one of the best app icon redesigns ever. Although the new icon is a simple outline, it uses subtle drop shadows for a more striking look. Plus the symbol itself is a perfect choice for this social media platform.

instagram old and new app icon

Flo

Plenty of period tracking apps use hearts and flowers, so it can be refreshing to see something different. Flo stays similar to its competitors with the color choices (I’m sorry to say it’s yet another pinkish, coral, ladies). However, it uses a feather for its app icon. 

Perhaps the icon image itself doesn’t necessarily convey the app’s main functionality immediately. Still, it does inspire a particular feeling (lightness, being carefree), which is what you’d want in an app like this.

flo app icon

ChatWith

Purple and pink color schemes are very popular in the tech industry. Here’s another great app icon concept that makes clever use of color and simple speech bubble shapes.

chatwith app icon
By MD Shamsudin

Amazon

Amazon introduced its new app design in 2021. And after a bit of tweaking (the blue strip initially resembled an infamous mustache), the app now has a polished new look. The brown color is pretty unorthodox in app design but perfectly fits the company and the app. And the clever incorporation of a part of Amazon’s logo is seamless. Much better than the dated shopping cart and company name!

amazon app icon

Abstract app icons

In the world of SaaS (software-as-a-service) businesses, it can sometimes be difficult to show with very literal symbols and imagery what an app is all about. That’s where a more abstract approach, using shapes and lines, can be pretty impressive. Take a look at some of these best app icons in this style.

Slack

We have to mention this industry giant for several reasons. Even though Slack is technically a professional chat app and could easily be represented by a simple speech bubble, the app icon, and company logo take a totally different approach.

The brilliant idea behind Slack which incidentally made it such a success is that it merges different communication tools and channels in one app. The app icon and logo design reflect that through the use of different colors and fluid shapes combined into one entity.

slack app icon

Substrate

Remember when I said there’s an app for everything? Well, this example really proves it! Substrate is an app that helps you learn organic chemistry in a fun, engaging way. Created with a mobile-first approach, this app is available as an iOS and Android app and designed for learning on the go.

The modern logo reflects that perfectly, but it also references the topic  since the lines might represent chemical bonds. 

substrate app icon
By Eddie Lobanovskiy

Headspace

One of the most basic principles of designing a successful app icon is to keep things simple. Well, this app icon example takes this piece of advice to the next level.

Why does it work, though? For a couple of reasons. First of all, the design is eye-catching precisely because of its simplicity (and the beautiful orange shade is also quite unique). However, the single object also translates the app’s primary function into design. Headspace is a mindfulness and meditation app, and just focusing on this orange dot inspires such a sense with the viewer. 

headspace app icon

Blek

Mascots are probably the most common icon style for game icons.  However an abstract icon works just as well, if you know what you’re doing. This game involves using calligraphy that moves and creates artwork. So, this calligraphy-inspired logo icon makes a lot of sense.

Mascots

A mascot app icon is a great way to build a connection with your target audience and give your design “more personality.” Of course, a mascot would ideally be present in your logo as well, which will help you build brand awareness.

Duolingo

Love it or hate it, Duolingo's owl is one of the most famous mascots in the world of app icons. The choice of an owl, the "wisest" of animals, is an obvious one for a learning app. However, it's even more interesting to note that the app's functionalities (the incessant push notifications and email reminders) have transformed the mascot's character. And the company quite cleverly embraced this, joining in on the joke that their cute mascot is now a language-teaching sociopath.

duolingo scary.png
Twitter
duolingo app icon

Dumb Ways to Die

Aside from being one of the most popular mobile games, this is also one of the most unique and best app icons.

This game (incidentally one of my favorites) uses game characters as icons, adding fun details. It's also a good example of using different variations, since the iOS and Android icons are different.

dumb ways app icon

Tripadvisor

Another recognizable owl in the world of app design is, of course, Tripadvisor. They used to have a more colorful logo, but moved to a more modern and minimalist design with an outline illustration against a green background in recent years. 

tripadvisor app icon

Mailchimp

Another recognizable chap (chimp), this cute app design uses a bright color that grabs attention. Like Tripadvisor, Mailchimp has stripped down its logo to the basics, and the result is a crisp, modern logo that will probably stay relevant in years to come.

mailchimp app icon

Letters and words

As a rule of thumb, app icons shouldn’t contain full words as these can often be illegible on small home screens. However, if your brand uses a wordmark or lettermark as a logo, you should try to keep app icons close to that by using letters or company name initials.

Here are a few app icon examples that use this approach well.

Netflix

Netflix probably has one of the most famous app icons, for a good reason. This type of mark is actually called a brand mark, and represents a simplified version of your logo (e.g. Nike’s brand mark is a standalone “swoosh” sign). You should definitely consider creating one as part of your brand design process, as brand marks are both versatile and one of the most effective ways to build brand awareness.

Teller

Everyone has a mobile banking app on their phone these days, but unlike other “leisure” apps, the design language of this kind of icon needs to convey trust and credibility and not just attract attention. This fintech app design concept is sleek and modern; however, the blue and grey color palette gives off a stern, professional vibe.

teller app icon

Fit On

A skilled designer can find a way to fit a lot even in a very small space, and here's an app icon example to prove it. 

There are plenty of apps with a similar look (as we said, purple and gradients are very popular as well as sleek, custom letters). However, fitness app helps provide an even better user experience by adding the full name of the app into the small icon.

The slight difference in line thickness might not be something you catch when glancing at your screen, but it helps make the lettering more noticeable while the overall design remains well-balanced.

fit on app icon

Tasty

Remember when I said you should try to keep things as simple and minimalistic as possible? Well, here's an app icon example that breaks those rules and very successfully so. 

Buzzfeed's fun food network uses an icon that combines text (an entire word, in fact), a handwritten font rather than a crisp sans serif, colorful background, and additional illustrated design elements in said background. However, it conveys the app's fun, casual nature well, and even with all the details, it doesn't look overcrowded. 

Whether it will still look relevant in a few years is a big question but, for now, it's playful, enticing, and aesthetically pleasing. 

tasty app icon

Illustrated app design

In closing, here are a few examples of more intricate designs using different types of illustrations. This is definitely something that you shouldn’t attempt to do if you don’t have any design knowledge. However, an experienced graphic designer or even a place like our free illustration library can definitely offer a great design solution for almost any type of app.

Cinnamon Roll App

Using photos in app icon design is usually not a great idea, but a photorealistic illustration high quality PNG file is another story altogether. This style allows you to add more details to your design but still keeping in mind the (space) restrictions you’re dealing with. For example, this idea for an app (presumably) for cinnamon roll recipes is bound to make anyone’s mouth water and would be difficult to overlook!

cinnamon roll app icon
By UI8

Prune

Although it might look like a mindfulness app, Prune is actually an award-winning mobile game that invites players to cultivate trees and save them from poisonous red orbs. The illustration itself here is not too intricate, but the overall design is beautiful and would likely catch your attention amongst numerous tacky icons that pop up in app search results.

prune app icon

Whiteboard

Pencil and watercolor illustrations give any design a more “human” feel, and in this field, it can really make a design stand out. This playful concept for some sort of drawing app combines the two techniques to create a simple and cute icon with a lot of personality.

whiteboard app icon

We hope this list of some of the best icons gives you you plenty of food for thought for designing your own! When it comes to icon design, try to stick to the basics and keep details minimal, but don’t forget to infuse the design with your brand identity and add something a little extra (whether it’s a contrast of colors, 3D effect or a mascot) that will help your app stand out from the rest. 

Having lived and studied in London and Berlin, I'm back in native Serbia, working remotely and writing short stories and plays in my free time. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector, I'm currently writing about the universal language of good graphic design. I make mix CDs and my playlists are almost exclusively 1960s.

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