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How The Noun Project Is Turning Icons Into Profit

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In the business world, it isn’t enough to just create a smart product. You also need a super-smart business model. Case in point: the Noun Project,an online icon collective of more than 30,000 symbols that strives to create and compile, as co-founder Edward Boatman puts it, an “everyday emoji” for just about everything. Over the last four years, Noun Project has grown to become a sort of visual dictionary of universally recognized symbols that’s had 10 million downloads. It’s the go-to resource for everyone from the stat heads at, who use a judicial gavel and block symbol as the shorthand “civil rights” in some charts, to store owners in Minneapolis, who will soon be able to apply at a county level for window decals that signify exactly how they organically recycle. But only recently did the Noun Project settle on a viable business plan.