The Icon Saga

When the initial ideas for App Cubby started to take shape back in March of 2008, I decided that I didn’t want to create a few quick apps and see how it went. My goal was to lay the foundation for a brand that would become a trusted name in the App Store. With such a lofty goal, I knew that visual branding was going to play a very important role.

My first task was to find an artist to bring this plan to fruition. Well, being the insanely compulsive person I am, I ended up finding three artists, and they graciously agreed to cooperate and bounce ideas back and forth until we had things nailed down [Being paid by the hour probably helped a bit with the graciousness!]. In the end, Chris did the website art, Johnny did the logo, and Jordan did the icons, but each had input in the concepts and creation of all the App Cubby artwork. Group think tends to get in the way of progress, but there are times when the creativity of a considerate group of people blows away anything an individual could create.

Chris and I started the whole process back in April, brainstorming an icon that could also function as the company logo. Here are some of the early sketches:

Those early sketches turned into some interesting concepts:

Here are some logo ideas based on those concepts:

As cool as those concepts were, they just didn’t feel like a brand. Back to the drawing board:

Then I created a few quick mockups in photoshop:

Here’s where I’d like to take a bit of credit. First, I recognized that I’m not an artist and sent my mockups back to the team for further iteration. Second, I finally decided that the icon is what would create the brand. At this point Apple was far enough along in creating the App Store that some screenshots had been leaked, and it became apparent that the icon would take center stage in the App Store, not a company logo. This gave quite a bit more freedom in both the icon and logo design process.

After a few more ideas were tossed back and forth, Johnny hit the conceptual home run:

We passed that concept back to Jordan (who specializes in icon design), and he started toying with it:

After lots of work, and some brilliant artistry, here are the final icons:

For the average hobbyist iPhone developer, the icon and other artwork is important, but it’s difficult to spend much time and money on artwork when there’s no guarantee that an app will make any money. More and more stories are surfacing across the web that show Trism (making $250k in 2 months) to be the exception and not the rule. With such a tough market, many hobbyists and independent developers have decided to find cheap or free alternatives for artwork. Some do better at this than others, but most apps in the App Store still leave quite a bit to be desired.

Total cost of the App Cubby artwork: $4,000. It was worth every penny! We’re not yet in the black, but our apps have been incredibly well received, and we have lots of great things in the works…

To see Trip Cubby in the App Store: click here

To see Gas Cubby in the App Store: click here

Cash Cubby is still in development.