What's It Take to Make a Product Iconic?

Bertrand Cesvet, Tony Babinski, and Eric Alper

The word icon has its origins in art history. Strictly speaking, an icon is the product of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church—a depiction, in oils, on a wooden surface, and of a religious subject (often of the Virgin Mary and Infant Jesus). Actually the Greek word for morals, icon has since taken on a much wider meaning in current English usage. We now take it to mean something like a symbol, but larger and more powerful in meaning and significance.

To us, an icon is still tied to its origins in religious art: It’s a symbol or sign of something deeper, larger, and more complex. It has the power to distill a larger web of meaningful connections and associations ...

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