How do you design icons for 109 countries and not offend cultural sensibilities? Does your company ever have to employ visual icons in multiple locations to visually communicate critical info? Have you encountered situations where your icon was misunderstood, or even considered offensive?

Maxwell Hoffmann recently authored a white paper for ENLASO on a global iconographic review the firm conducted in over 109 locales for McDonald’s restaurants. McDonald’s aimed to develop an easy-to-understand, visual nutrition language that could be used to communicate such things as caloric intake, fat, carbs, and protein information. While the study specifically addresses nutritional icons it is written for a general audience and should prove valuable reading for any communication pro.

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Hoffman is interested in learning about the “unintended results” caused by icons in software or product packaging. Email your feedback.

Read “Creating a New Language of Nutrition”.