Icons are shorthand. They are signs, almost in the same sense of gestures such as signing. They are modern a hieroglyphs, and they are useful in both technical documentation and technical marketing communication. A logo–a really powerful logo–does shift towards the older concept of icon, which is familiar to most of us through religion.*
Everybody reading this knows what these icons mean:
The first group we call emoticons. They are ubiquitous, and people like to use them and their keyboard substitutes— :-), :-( , :-/, etc. as semantic expressions. Sometimes obsessively. The second group can be called logo-icons, but they actually transcend the companies they represent. The have a cultural meaning. They can be argued about, loved, hated, envied, revered and signify $$!
*sup>Scholars of Medieval and Renaissance art and literature sometimes specialize in the study of iconography: how certain images in a painting or text conjured up a whole set of meanings and associations. Today, we have the much abused word iconic, which has come to mean merely famous for one thing or another. I actually heard this: “Kim Kardashian is an icon of Reality TV.” Now that’s blasphemy.Google+