The light bulb has become a ubiquitous iconographic symbol representing more than just lighting. But as contemporary discussions grapple with issues pertaining to energy efficiency and related lighting technologies, a new singular symbol has not arisen that expertly captures and conveys this idea. Although the compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) has often been used, it is a poor substitute when it comes to representing the range of available energy-efficient lighting options, including solid-state lighting.

But that is about to change, if LED manufacturer Cree has its way. In an effort to create a universal symbol specifically for LED lighting, which in the company's mind is also a way to represent energy-efficient lighting, Cree partnered with the Noun Project—a free, online visual dictionary of symbols for energy-efficiency developments—to host an Iconathon. Forty participants, including graphic designers and anyone else interested in lighting and energy topics, assembled on Feb. 25 at Cree's Durham, N.C., headquarters to partake in the one-day workshop, led by Edward Boatman, one of the Noun Project's founders. Attendees split into groups to sketch and brainstorm ideas. At the end of the day, the group critiqued 15 proposed symbols and reviewed more than 100 sketches.

"There were two basic design perspectives that emerged," explains Ginny Skalski, Cree's social media specialist and organizer of the Iconathon. "There were those who felt it was essential that the LED light symbol take on the same characteristics of a traditional light bulb or CFL. Then there were those who felt that the symbol for LED light should not be constrained to the light-bulb form because LEDs are so versatile." After lengthy discussion, the group reached a consensus that the new symbol should depart from the light bulb form and focus on the LED itself. The new symbol, a representational square and light beam, was released on April 18 along with the full suite of energy-efficiency symbols, which are all available for download at