If you’ve never used the internet in your life, you don’t know what the wireless internet icon looks like. But we’ve welcomed 2022, and you’re probably reading this on your phone. The chances are infinitesimal that you’re oblivious to the existence of the internet. We’re not here to talk about probabilities, though. So, instead, we will focus on how you can create icons that stick.

Other icons such as the airplane icon signify an airport, a line drawing of a cycle denotes a cycling path, and a floppy desk means “to save”. All these icons are universal and have become an integral part of our daily lives. For most of us, it’s become second nature to look for icons and symbols such as these wherever we go.

Yet, not all icons are easy to grasp. Pictograms aren’t hard to miss since they literally interpret a particular thing. But, ideograms are based on ideas and may not be comprehensible for all. Understanding icons also depends on geography, age, and cultural differences. Shapes like a circle, triangle, and square play a crucial role in molding the message you wish to put across. It also influences people’s choices.

You may have often seen an icon for what looks like a regular smartphone charger, except the USB end is a leaf or two. It may be easy for you to identify, not so much for your mother.

A great icon is unobtrusive.

Dieter Ram’s 10 principles of good design should also remind you that good design is pleasing to the eye. Most importantly, it should be helpful and self-explanatory. Let’s travel back to the 60s and find an example that, to this day, is considered the root of all iconic icons -the pictograms for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

These icons were detailed and purposeful. Masaru Katzumie and Yoshiro Yamashita created pictograms to depict each sport. They also created the now easily identifiable washroom symbols for men and women.

By recognizing one colossal problem – they solved it.  They broke the language barrier. They realized that international participants would not understand Japanese, so they created icons. The icons were self-explanatory; anyone from anywhere could understand them. This trend continued for many Olympic games to follow until we saw a new form of icons in 1992 with strokes. It was the brainchild of designer Otl Aicher.

Yet we learn from the Tokyo Olympics that some things never go out of fashion. Pictograms like the ones used then are timeless. It’s a trend that will continue in 2022. Let’s look at a few more trends you should be aware of in 2022.

Icon Designs That Will Rule In 2022

Line style icons

Since line style icons are ideograms and pictograms, most designers prefer working with them. Some even create logos with this style of icon. Although it may look like simple line work, it’s versatile and works on any background. Line icons are distinguishable whether you’re working with small or large spaces. It’s a boon for apps designed for phones and larger touchscreen devices.


More and more apps and websites are moving to an outline of shape while following the rules of a pictogram. For example, a semi-circle can illustrate similar fruits like cantaloupe and watermelon. Add dots over one semi-circle to represent the seeds of a watermelon. All you need to create a padlock icon is a rectangle and an inverted U-shape. The fun thing about simplified icons is that you can play with shapes and lines and still have the item made identifiable without being literal. Simplified icons allow you to play with shapes and lines and still be identifiable.

Line icons with a splash of color

Black line icons on a white background are classic, elegant, and non-distracting. But, 2022 will be all about making life colorful. After you create line icons, choose a subtle yet noticeable color. Colors like light teal, olive green, and other pastel shades can work wonders. Choose a shape like a square or a circle and apply it to the background of the line icon. The pop of color should ideally be 1/4th the size of the icon. You don’t need to center it as long as it’s visible. The contrast it offers is what makes the icon stand out.

Throwback to the 80s

Yes, it’s all coming back. Expect loud and exaggerated pops of color and retro-graphic-like stickers as icons. Add futuristic elements to the mix, and you have an icon that will be all the rage in 2022. Icons such as these work as they often carry a message or are rooted in a movement. When thinking of a psychedelic movement, a rainbow or “be groovy” stickers are perhaps the first things that come to mind. These icons will be trending in 2022, playing host to activism and movements.

Illustrated icons for inclusivity

There’s a sharp shift towards a more sticker-like icon, especially with fully illustrated icons. 2022 will surprise you with icons that look like stickers. This shift also makes way for an all-inclusive icon practice – a pressing need in 2022. By choosing to illustrate your icon, the world is your oyster. Now you can create a cute little green dog reading a book or a coffee mug with arms and legs. You should also create icons representing people from every community, race, gender, and profession.

Hand-drawn icons

If you’re half a decent artist and enjoy it when digital elements mirror the real world, you’re in luck as 2022 ushers in hard-drawn icons. Whether they are shapes or more elaborate things like a paintbrush, it’s time to bring out the Picasso in you. The pandemic forced most of us to work from home. During that time, most of us picked up the habit of sketching or doodling. It’s become an all too familiar art form for the amateur now. As doodling took over our notebooks, walls, and lives, it has given way to hand-drawn icons.

Multicolor icons

2022 is asking you to be your creative best and bring out all the colors but know when you’re going overboard too. There is a fine line; try not to cross it. Whether you choose a two-color or multicolor palette, one with bright options, make the icon memorable. Colors grab eyeballs and make the icons look more realistic.

Illustrations inside a circle

If illustrating something and adding colors isn’t doing it for you, you can go one step further and incorporate a circle. Design your icons to fit snugly inside a circle. Picture a feature circle on a plain white background, and it’s framed. That’s the type of imagery you should be striving for. However, icons like these also have limitations as they only work on a flat design. To go further, you can incorporate whimsical elements around the circle like bubbles, a snowflake, or confetti, depending on the objective of the icon.  


Our designs must speak volumes in a world where everything is digital, and our lives revolve around our screens. So, let 2022 be your playground and create iconic icons. Remember to play with colors, lines, and don’t be afraid to merge several shapes. Who knows, you might be on to something big! While you’re at it, don’t forget to color outside the lines too. Need impressive icons for your brand? Connect with our UI UX design agency to discuss more.

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Author Pepper Square
Over the last 20 years, we have helped 350+ leading companies maximize their outcomes with UI UX Design, UI Dev, Software Dev, and Analytics.

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