While editing the Graphic Innovation Guide, I noticed that there are a lot of light bulbs.
For decades of course, lightbulbs have symbolized innovation, and in my rough draft I’ve used them liberally – they’re a convenient shorthand. They’re also easy and fun to draw. However it crossed my mind that perhaps I could, even should, “walk the innovative talk” by coming up with a new icon. So I pulled out a pen and scrap piece of paper and did a bit of two step mind-mapping.
The reason we use icons (e.g. traffic, washroom and safety signs) is they are immediately recognizable – we don’t have to think about them. When I look at the options I generated, none of them jump out at me crying “I’m a clear symbol of innovation!”. In my pursuit of innovation for the sake of innovation (or novelty) I’d actually be doing the reader a disservice – and undermining my own work in the process.
In short, there are tools, products, services and icons that are classics, and just fine they way they are. Give thanks to the lowly lightbulb!