in Icon design

Spicing Up Team Communication on Slack With New Custom Icons

Being part of Iconfinder is not just constant maintenance of the site and other daily routine tasks. There is much more that happens in the universe of our team, contributors, clients and community. The opportunity to see the excitement of all of these parties involved is the key driver and motivator that pushes us forward as a company. There is nothing better than hearing from a contributor who is enthusiastic to sell his or her icons on Iconfinder, or receiving a compliment from a satisfied client.

In this blog post, we would like to share one of those success stories about a feature that is relatively new to us – Custom Icon Design. We announced this service in the end of December and received a great interest since. A number of projects have already been completed and the resulting icons implemented by the clients.

The case study we would like to share here is an exemplary custom icon design project, which resulted from a mutual effort and level of professionalism between the icon designer, the client and Iconfinder representative. It also shows how much of the work happens ‘behind the curtain’. Plus, we simply found the nature of this project pure fun!

So let’s start the story from it’s roots – The Client.

Sysdig and Their Need for Better Peer-Recognition System








We were approached by Kori, Business Operations Manager at Sysdig, a software company offering an advanced form of website monitoring. You can read more about what they do on Sysdig website.

Kori is responsible for implementing a peer-recognition system that would actually work. As she explains, Sysdig have tried some different products, but they all seemed to be cumbersome and not very useful. Basically, the team simply didn’t have time to ‘fool with a separate program for peer-recognition’.

Therefore, Kori decided to create the system by herself, using her insights about the way her team works. She wanted to make it less intrusive and more integrated in their usual workflow. Thus, she started by adding a ‘kudos’ channel to Sysdig Slack account and encouraged the team to use it for praising each other’s work. That’s where the idea of using icons arose. Kori wanted to reinforce the company’s values among the team, so she realized, if each of those values were represented by an icon, people could use them alongside their compliments for each other on ‘kudos’ channel, linking the behaviour back to the core values.

The six core values that needed to be represented were:

  • Get Shit Stuff Done;
  • Bravely Dive into the Unknown;
  • Constantly Seek to Learn and Improve;
  • Honor Thy User;
  • Treat People with Respect and Kindness;
  • Live Joyously.

As a first step, Kori started to look for some pre-done icons for that purpose. That’s how she has discovered Iconfinder. As she found out about the custom icon design feature, she knew that was a way to go and filled out the project brief.

The Designer

The project brief was then received by the top designers from Iconfinder’s network. One of them, young and very talented designer Laura Reen, found the project cool and unusual.

‘The value of ‘Get Shit Done’, really made me smile’, says Laura. ‘I also found other definitions of values interesting and challenging to draw, and I decided to apply for this project’, she adds.

As Laura replied to the brief, the client was able to get a sneak peak into the examples of her prior work to determine what style they could expect from her. Kori liked the style and expected the custom icons to be of the same quality. So that was a green light for Laura to begin her work.

Internal Focus and Characteristics of Target Audience

The Sysdig Custom Icon Project was an exciting case in a sense that the icons had a very unique and concrete internal purpose.

However, the internal focus required that icons distinguish the values very clearly and reflect them in easily understandable way, that would make the choice of the icon in the conversation very intuitive and quick.

Another element that required special attention from the designer was the target users. Sysdig has a young team aged between 18 and 29, majority of them being software developers. So the icons had to fit well with their youthful and dynamic culture.

Choosing the Style and Finding the Right Symbols

The first part of the process for Laura was to decide upon the style of the icons. So she started to do her own investigation of Sysdig and found out they have a certain color palette used across their website.

sysdig_final colors

Example of color palette used across Sysdig website

Laura decided that using those colors would be a great way to maintain the unity across different Sysdig platforms, even though it might challenge the implementation of her creative ideas.

As the style sampling got approved by the client, came the hard work of brainstorming for symbols that would reflect the core values in the most convincing way. Laura admits that it was really challenging to choose ‘the right’ symbols to match the meanings.

‘I was asking my friends what ‘live joyously’ means to them – everybody seemed to get stuck when thinking about it. Trust me, an adult nowadays can’t tell exactly how it is’, adds Laura, and smiles.

‘So I Googled a lot, and the most common results I found were either sun with sunglasses and a cocktail, or colored balloons in the air, or a happy elephant. I tried to keep each icon as cool as possible, so I ended up choosing an air balloon to symbolize this one – who would be against experiencing such a travel in this age?’, explains Laura.

Expressing ‘Get shit done’ was just as challenging. Laura’s first attempt was a hand with a check mark. However, it seemed to be more like ‘task done’ and did not really rock the strenght of ‘getting shit done’. New ideas came with new doubts, since some symbols could easily be perceived as being offensive, or simply not matching the target audience.

‘For instance, Egyptian man carrying a stone to the top of a pyramid can be interpreted as doing a useless work. Another idea I had was an ant carrying a stone on its back, though I was afraid this may seem too childish and still wouldn’t cover the meaning perfectly’, comments Laura. ‘Even Iconfinder representative Morten shared with me some ideas for this one’, adds Laura.

Brainstorming for ‘Get Shit Done’. Icons by Laura Reen

‘I was thinking about these ideas so much, that I ended up seeing some of them in my dreams’, she says. ‘One of them was actually an astronaut on Mars (I chose it to be Mars because it’s red and matches well with red in the color palette I’ve been using)’, adds Laura.

Laura says that in the beginning she thought finding the symbol for ’Treat people with Respect and Kindness’ will be the most difficult one. She then admits, that it has actually turned out to be the easiest one.

‘I was thinking a lot about this icon and read that it is the Golden Rule of Buddhism, so I draw Buddha. Later on, customer came back to me with an idea of a hand with heart, also suggesting that Buddha would be a perfect symbol for  ‘Honor Thy User’ value’, tells Laura.

In her first attempt of drawing the hand with heart for ‘Treat people with Respect and Kindness’, Laura drew the hand in a shirt. Kori from Sysdig then pointed out that their dress code is much more casual, so Laura redrew it with a sleeve from a hoodie.

Two versions of ‘Treat people with Respect and Kindness’ - with a shirt sleeve and a hoodie sleeve. By Laura Reen.

Two versions of ‘Treat people with Respect and Kindness’ – with a shirt sleeve and a hoodie sleeve. By Laura Reen

Each one of the icons took some extra effort to be crafted until perfection. However, the final icons were delivered on time and we at Iconfinder absolutely love them.

Final Icons

‘I enjoyed this project so much, that for the next few days I felt a ‘project hangover’. I couldn’t start any new projects with a different style, so I drew a bonus icon for Sysdig, while I was waiting for the final approval. It represents the ‘Magic They do in Their Service’, Laura expresses her feelings about the project.

Bonus icon for Sysdig by Laura Reen

Sysdig Response and Icons in Use

Back to Kori’s perspective, she says Laura ‘nailed’ the meaning of each value with her final icon set, exceeding her initial expectations. ‘The team absolutely loved them!’, Kori shares her excitement.

The icons are already being used in ‘kudos’ channel, but Kori also plans on creating employee gifts such as t-shirts, mugs, etc. featuring the icons as rewards for exemplifying the values. She adds that their Marketing Department is so excited about the icons, they are going to find a way to incorporate them on the website, too.


Example of final icons being used in Slack

Example of final icons being used in Slack

‘Sometimes a ‘picture’ is worth a thousand words’, adds Kori.

We believe this statement is a perfect closure for our case study.

Let us know what you think of Sysdig’s new icons and make sure to check out our custom icon design page.

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