New Energy Efficiency Symbols now in the Public Domain

With Earth Day fast approaching many of our thoughts are again turning to the environment and how we can help preserve and sustain our beautiful planet.

The Noun Project recently partnered with Cree, Inc. to host an Iconathon to create new symbols for Energy Efficiency and LED Lighting.  One of the goals we’ve set out for Iconathon is to add to the public domain a set of graphic symbols that communicate universally recognized concepts, in particular those that have yet to be visually defined.  Although the idea of Energy Efficiency has been around for many years, it is just now gaining the kind of exposure and focus that requires it to have its own visual language to represent concepts like wind and solar farms, electric charging stations, and sustainable energy.

Thanks to the help from our Durham Iconathon participants, we’re thrilled to release 15 of these new symbols into the public domain.  The symbols below can be found for download in our Iconathon Suite.

Energy Efficiency Event

Why a New Symbol for LED Lighting?

We asked Ginny Skalski, CREE’s Social Media Specialist this exact question.

“At Cree, we’ve been talking for a long time about the need for a symbol to represent LED lighting to help get people to think beyond the energy-wasting incandescent bulb and ugly fluorescent lighting. But we weren’t really sure what the symbol should look like. By teaming up with the Noun Project for an Iconathon, we were able to put a lot of thought into the symbol for LED lighting and other energy-efficient technologies.

The Iconathon process really allowed a diverse group of people to discuss the merits of a variety of designs. And through the critiques,  many strong concepts emerged. It was remarkable to see sketches from the iconathon take on a life of their own as beautiful digital symbols.

Our hope is that these new symbols become the go-to images for the Lighting, Energy-Efficiency and Design industries. We’d love to see the new symbol for LED lighting become as universal as the first aid or no smoking symbols.”

LED Symbol Design Process

One of the core themes that emerged from the group critique was that LED is a radically different light source from any of its predecessors, and because of this we all felt it was appropriate and necessary to break free from any past “light bulb” design precedents.  LED needed to have its own distinct and identifiable mark.

As a group we decided the two essential elements that needed to be present in the final design were the semiconductor microchip that produces the light, and of course light itself.  During the group critique we observed that many of the sketches used a square to represent the chip.  The final design uses this concept but displays the square as a three-dimensional diamond shape, thus creating the illusion of depth and volume.  Representing the second element, light, turned out to be the greater challenge.  When limited to black and white with no gradients, designers only have a few options to graphically represent light.  Most of the sketches created at the Iconathon used lines emanating from the microchip to communicate a light source.  However, after the event there was a realization that so many other icons used this same “emanating line” technique to represent a variety of concepts (i.e. sound), that we came to the conclusion that there should be a more unique and memorable way to illustrate light.

The solution we arrived upon is to use negative space to represent a powerful focused beam of light rising up from the microchip.  We felt this created a much more dynamic, memorable, and bold design that still contains the same original elements agreed upon by the participants of the Iconathon.

Finally, we view these symbols not just as purely utilitarian, but also representative of where we are as a society, and what we want our future to look like.  Creating symbols for these powerful ideas helps disseminate them by providing people with the visual tools to make their voices heard across contemporary communication platforms.  We can’t wait to see how you use them and we hope you enjoy these symbols as much as we do.

LED Symbol

Sustainable Energy Symbol

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