O'Reilly uses figurative illustrations that have no topical/semantic connection to the subject matter for their programming books:
I'm assuming this is beneficial both for building their brand but also for recognizing individual books. Also, the concept is (for practical purposes) infinitely scalable.
Many sites, e.g. cyber-dojo, also use a similar practice to identify users:
We are considering using similar iconography in an enterprise application, and associating our clients with those icons.
For each client (~500 institutions, no individuals) we can have multiple assignments. If the icons are monochrome or have transparent background we may distinguish assignments by use of color, while still mapping the icon to the client.
The application is for our employees only and not something our clients are normally exposed to. They will rarely, if ever, see the icons with which they are associated.
- Have anyone user tested such non-semantic icon-to-object associations? Are there drawbacks I am unaware of? (We're obviously going to use a non-objectionable icon set.)
- Are there any particular collections you would recommend? We have some money to spend on this type of branding, but it's an internal project so it has to be somewhat reasonable.
- Are there other best practices I should take into account (e.g., I would like the silhouettes to be recognizable, so I'm rulig out using e.g. only birds' heads, which seem to be popular in such illustration sets).