What Is a Favicon Explained (With Examples)

Today, I will unpack the favicon meaning and explain why favicons are crucial for your website, blog, or online business.

Favicons rarely get the attention they deserve. You can’t afford to ignore this tiny but vital icon anymore because you lose online brand equity this way. I will give you favicon design tips and examples along the way, so you can see how it’s done.

A pro-looking favicon strengthens your brand’s value. 📈

Let’s jump straight in!

📚 Table of contents:

What is a favicon? Favicon meaning explained

A favicon is a small square icon associated with a particular website.

Regarding origin, the term favicon combines two words: “favorite” and “icon.”

So, a favicon is your company’s favorite icon. It’s a symbol that represents your brand or website.

A favicon is a critical part of your site identity alongside your site title, tagline, and logo.

Where do favicons appear?

Favicons appear in many places on the web.

Most importantly, favicons appear next to a website in Google’s mobile search results, so a favicon can help your website stand out from the crowd in Google’s search results pages (only on mobile, though):

Favicon used in Google search

Second, favicons are prominent in open tabs at the top of web browsers next to web page titles. They typically appear on the left of the page title like this:

Favicon meaning favicon in browser tabs

Moreover, favicons in browser tabs help users navigate quickly to the correct website when they have opened many tabs.

Next, you can see favicons in browser bookmarks bars. Browser favicons make it easy for users to return to the particular page they marked:

Favicon in browser bookmarks

Additionally, other places on the web where you will see favicons are:

  • Address bars
  • Toolbars
  • Browser history
  • Smartphone app/launcher icons (if the user saves your website to their app screen)

What is a favicon used for?

A favicon serves three purposes:

  1. It’s a branding tool that emphasizes the uniqueness of your brand. 🔧
  2. It enhances user experience by helping users to find web pages faster. 🖱️
  3. It adds a touch of professionalism, which builds trust in users. 🙋

The short answer? No.

While both icons represent your brand, they are different.

To begin with, favicons are much smaller than logos. Some brands use a smaller version of their logo as a favicon, but this doesn’t always work. Because favicons are small, they don’t have enough space for visuals and words used in most logos. They communicate brand identity mainly through visuals and minimal characters.

Lastly, favicons work online, while logos work both online and offline.

How to create a favicon in five steps

Now that you understand the favicon meaning and its importance, I will show you five steps to create an impactful favicon:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Include your brand colors
  3. Use minimal text, if any
  4. Don’t force your entire logo into your favicon
  5. Choose the proper format and size

1. Keep it simple

First, to nail your favicon design, keep it simple.

Follow the Leonardo Da Vinci mantra: simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Complex concepts don’t work for favicons because they are too small for intricate designs. So, overloading your favicon with too many graphics and words results in a busy design.

Also, people won’t see the details because it’ll be crowded.

An excellent example of a simple yet effective favicon is Copyblogger.

Simple favicon example: Copyblogger

Favicon meaning copyblogger case study

Copyblogger uses its company name’s first letter as a favicon. The white letter “C” pops because it’s on a black background. Users see it easily.

To simplify your favicon:

  • Strip down your logo to its barest essentials. If you were to remove everything in your logo and remain with one thing, what would it be? Build a favicon around that one essential thing.
  • Use your company name initials. Another tactic to make your favicon simpler is using your company name initials. So, if your brand name is Boston Bangles, you adopt the letters BB for your favicon. Easy peasy.
  • Use your logo image only. If your logo has both images and words, drop the words and use the image as your favicon. Since your logo image captures the essence of your company, your favicon will still be on-brand.

2. Include your brand colors

Did you know that using your signature color across channels boosts brand recognition by up to 80%?

When you think of Coca-Cola, which color springs to mind? Red, right? Because they have exposed us to red whenever we see Coca-Cola ads or communications both in online and offline media, it’s now deeply ingrained in us. That’s the power of color psychology.

That’s why you must stick to your brand colors when you design your website’s favicon. Consistency breeds familiarity.

For its favicon, fast-food giant McDonald’s stuck to yellow, one of its primary colors.

On-brand colors favicon example: McDonald’s

Favicon example McDonalds

Notably, the company didn’t use the color with a completely new design.

It dropped the red background but kept the familiar big “M” yellow letter. The result? Instant brand recognition because people already know the yellow letter from the famous brand’s logo.

In short, for consistency and brand recognition, stick to your brand’s primary colors when making a favicon.

3. Use minimal text, if any

Thirdly, it’s best to keep the text minimal when designing a favicon.

Here’s why.

Cramming words into your tiny favicon causes two major issues:

  1. Visibility: People won’t see your crowded favicon clearly.
  2. Legibility: Users won’t be able to read your favicon copy.

People who can’t see or read your favicon won’t recognize your website. As a result, returning to your web page when they have opened multiple pages will take a lot of work. They’ll end up going elsewhere. You will lose traffic and potential customers.

The best favicons are mostly images only or an image fuzed with minimal text. This approach leads to clarity, simplicity, and legibility.

For instance, the Ahrefs favicon uses a minimal text favicon.

Minimal text favicon example: Ahrefs

Ahrefs favicon example

This company’s name has six letters. So the team realized they couldn’t jam them all into its space-starved favicon. Therefore, they picked the distinctively bright orange initial letter “A” for it. It’s bold and easy to see and read.

That’s what you want – for your favicon meaning to be apparent.

4. Don’t force your entire logo into your favicon

Further, as I noted earlier, some brands use a smaller version of their logo as a favicon.

This strategy works for a few brands, especially those with simple logos. But for most brands, forcing your entire logo into your favicon would be catastrophic.

Here’s why.

Favicons are bite-sized. Therefore, you don’t have the space to load your favicon with sophisticated pictures and fancy catchphrases. So, use a minimalistic approach like Mailchimp.

Minimalistic favicon example: Mailchimp

Mailchimp favicon example

The Mailchimp logo has an image and the company’s name. For its favicon, it dropped the name and left the well-known chimp image.

The result?

A simpler, clearer favicon.

5. Choose the proper format and size

Lastly, when creating a favicon, the important thing is getting the image format and size right.

These are the most common favicon file formats:

  • ICO: the most flexible format that works with all browsers, including Internet Explorer.
  • PNG: a high-quality format that works with most browsers except Internet Explorer.
  • SVG: a lightweight format, but only Opera, Chrome, and Firefox support it.

Next, let’s look at the latest favicon dimensions, measured in pixels. The ideal size for favicons is 16 x 16 px. That said, favicons can be more extensive depending on the purpose and the platform where you want to upload them.

Here’s a chart with the ideal favicon sizes for different scenarios:

Favicon Type Size (in pixels)
Browser favicons 16 x 16
Taskbar shortcut favicons 32 x 32
Desktop shortcut favicons 96 x 96
Apple touch favicons 180 x 180
Squarespace favicons 300 x 300
WordPress favicons 512 x 512

Create favicons with the correct dimensions for the specific platform you are targeting. As a rule of thumb, create a big-size favicon because it will still look nice when scaled down. However, a small favicon loses its quality when scaled up.

Do you understand the favicon meaning?

Have you grasped the core of your brand identity?

Did you design a unique favicon?

Have you picked the ideal favicon format and size?

That’s great! 😎

Now it’s time to upload it to your WordPress website.

How to add a favicon in WordPress

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how to add a favicon to your site – if you want more detailed instructions, check out our full guide on how to add a favicon to WordPress.

Step 1: Click “Appearance” on the left side of your WordPress dashboard.

Step 2: Click “Customize” from the options that emerge.

How to add favicon to website | steps one and two

Step 3: Click on “Site Identity“:

How to add favicon to website | step three

Step 4: Navigate to the “Site Icon” section and click “Select Site Icon” to upload your favicon.

Here’s an example of what it looks like once you’ve uploaded it:

Favicon in WordPress

That’s it. Pretty straightforward, right?

Now your site’s favicon icon will pop up in various places on the web.

Favicon meaning: more than a mere minuscule icon

Now that you’ve read this guide, there’s no need to Google “favicon meaning” anymore. You now know what favicon means and why you should add one to your site.

To sum up, favicons boost your brand’s visibility and build credibility. They also help users quickly identify companies online and navigate to the right pages or websites. Favicons are tiny, but they make a significant impact.

Create yours today and reap the rewards. 🚀

If you’re interested in a new logo to go along with your favicon, you can also check out 👉 our posts with the 10 best logo makers and how to make a logo for free.

Do you still have any questions about the favicon meaning? Let us know in the comments!

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