Communicate visually by using IKON

What if our communication in the future uses icons to represent concepts and objects? Icons are pictures, we often associate them with creativity. Sending messages is related to logical thinking because we need to think about grammar, whereas using icons will be a creative exercise for our brains. Thus, by sending messages using icons, our brain will get creative and logical exercise at the same time.

An association from Switzerland called KomunIKON is developing a type of visual communication that allows people from different languages to communicate without problem. They call it IKON. It translates texts into icons that users can send to other users. The icons developed by KomunIKON can be used wherever there is a necessity to write a message to any type of recipient, even if they are people with difficulties, such as illiterate or disabled people.

Philosophy and design guidelines

  1. International: Icons should be understandable across different countries and languages.
  2. Inclusive: Icons should respect diversities, such as gender, sexual orientation, etc.
  3. Human-centered: The concept of a “human” is represented in many icons, like I, you, father, mother, etc
  4. Precise: Each icon should have a well-defined meaning, as in a dictionary. Compare “hear” and “listen”.
  5. Complete: All important meanings should be able to be represented by at least 1 icon.
  6. Uncensored: There is no ban on vulgar, sexually explicit, violent, and offensive icons, as in any real language.
  7. Consistent: If an icon X has a certain meaning of Y in an icon Z, icon X should maintain the same meaning of Y in every icon.
  8. Transparent: Icons should be understood as easily as possible by most people.
  9. Crowd-driven: Icons are tested by the community through a tool called “iconometer”, developed by the University of Geneva.

Sample sentences

Here are some of the sentences that have been developed by KomunIKON. Please keep in mind that the IKON language is very flexible, there are no rigid rules to be learned, anyone can use the language as they prefer, as far as the receiver understands.

  1. I send (to) you many kisses
I send (to) you many kisses

I send (to) you many kisses

In this English sentence, there is a double object (“you” and “kisses”). For this reason, we add the preposition “to” before “you”.

2. The whole life in one night

Whole life in one night

Whole life in one night

This is the Italian title of a movie by Robert Bresson (1967). “Whole” is in opposition to “half, minority and majority”. “Life” is in contrast to “death”. “In” is in contrast to “out”. “Night” is in contrast to “daylight”.

3. Faster, higher, stronger

Faster, higher, stronger

These icons were made to celebrate the victory of Italy in 3 sports categories during the Olympic Games. This picture shows the meaning in Latin and Italian languages, the English meaning is “Faster, higher, stronger”.


Despite being registered in Switzerland, KomunIKON‘s team comprises international people from various countries, such as Italy, France, Germany, Russia, Senegal, Spain, Ecuador, Indonesia, Panama, Uganda, India, East Timor, etc. Read more information about this interesting team and IKON at KomunIKON.

Full disclosure: Teddy Nee is currently the Social Media and Communication volunteer of KomunIKON

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