I want to show the location of different companies within a Google map with icons.

Most of the time you see "buildings" used as a company icon.

Do you have an interesting alternative?

  • Daniel, if you look in the FAQ, requests for iconography suggestions are off-topic. – dnbrv Mar 1 '12 at 5:36
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    A cow would be interesting. Or maybe a piece of toast. – DA01 Mar 1 '12 at 6:33
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    Sorry about that! I did not expect this since there quite a few other questions about icons... I guess you have to vote it down... And I will obviously consider the piece of toast... ;-) – Daniel Schenker Mar 1 '12 at 6:44
  • If you are showing only companies and using the same icon, then might not a pin marker do the job? Combine with info on hover (company name and other relevant statistic). Pin markers can cluster nicely together. Perhaps have a simple building shape as the pin head... – Roger Attrill Mar 1 '12 at 9:23

This depends on the context. Is the user expecting to see only Companies on your map? In that case any simple, visually distinctive marker will to - like the red pin in iOS maps.

It's unlikely that users won't use your application because the pins didn't look 'interesting' enough. Interesting could also mean breaking conventions for the sake of it, which is never advisable.

If your users however expect to see different things on a map, such as companies, hospitals, schools and parks, then buildings do make a lot of sense as a marker. Confirming here doesn't stop you from standing out, because the graphical details of this marker.

It also depends on what you want to portray. In a map of businesses, pins will do. In a map of consultancy, banking, food and entertainment businesses, where it is important to you to differentiate between them, it would be important to use different markers. You'll often see restaurants and pubs to have different icons from offices, although all are businesses.

You may further want to consider that if you show only one type of business, but have information in addition to their location which is key to the value of your application, you may want to show it differently:


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

This can be anything that adds value really, like whether it is open currently or not, how long to the next bus at a bus stop, or the star rating for restaurants.

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My thoughts -

  1. Showing the logo of the company spread out on the map - Works well against monotonous generic images as better branding strategy

  2. Color codes with flags- This will be generic, but certainly assures that the important areas are "flagged out" or "marked out" - works well when more items are clustered in a region and by color it sometimes becomes easy differentiation

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  • Logos would be great. But there are too many items some times and automation is getting more complicated. Can you maybe explain your 2. point. I did not understand what you mean by flaggeed out or marked out... – Daniel Schenker Mar 1 '12 at 6:28

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