Merriam-Webster defines Iconography as “the images or symbols related to something.” Ironically, that sentence really doesn’t say much considering its subject matter. I think iconography should actually be defined as simple visual cues that create a visceral response.
Religion, politics, art and entertainment have relied on iconography for years. From a man nailed to a cross to an eagle clutching an olive branch, and from John Lennon’s round glasses to John Wayne’s ten gallon hat. These simple visual cues provide the viewer with an almost immediate emotional response. You could probably see them as you read them.
Iconography has been used extensively throughout marketing as well. Uncle Sam’s “I want you” image, Coppertone girl’s suit being pulled by her dog, Bob’s Bigboy holding up the burger plate, and of course, the Goodyear blimp are just a few.
The simplest of iconography can have a powerful effect on a brand’s image. It is part of the brand building process. And it is a technique that will pay huge dividends when developed properly.
To paraphrase the great adman David Ogilvy, “Initial visual sentiment is necessary to close the sale.”