I have noticed that there are different styles associated with favicons of Stack Exchange sites.

Some sites have distinct graphical icons, with their respective metas having the grayed out version of the icon. E.g.: Stack Overflow, Mathematics, Ask Ubuntu, and Ask Different.

Icons of Stack Overflow, Mathematics, Ask Ubuntu, and Ask Different

Other sites have sky-blue callout icons. Of these, for some sites the content of the callout is an abbreviation for the site. For others, it's again a graphical icon. And their respective metas have the same icon, but the callout's color is black. E.g.: Salesforce, Code Review, Aviation, and Chess.

What do these different icon styles represent?

  • Note: I have a rough idea, but including that would have made the question opinion based. – sampathsris Aug 30 '14 at 15:24
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    The blue ones are beta sites and putting what you think already in the question does not make your question opinion based. – ben is uǝq backwards Aug 30 '14 at 15:27

Because designers, that's why.

Beta sites are given a temporary icon, consisting of characters or small icon representing the site name or topic, on a blue speech balloon modelled on the Stack Exchange logo. Pictograms are used where one is available (like for Chess SE, the rook is an obvious choice), a one- or two-letter abbreviation otherwise. The Craft CMS SE site got the same shape in red with a C in the same font as the typical branding for that CMS instead of a pictogram, presumably because a plain C on blue could have meant anything.

When a site graduates from public beta to full release, it is given a full-on unique design, which includes a site logo. A Stack Exchange designer first proposes a design on the site's Meta, and the final design is then created based on the community feedback. See the Mathematics design proposal for example, where Jin briefly explains how he picked the logo.

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    Except that Craft got a red icon instead of blue... For reasons, I suppose. – user259867 Aug 31 '14 at 8:05
  • @Thursday: The font is also different from usual; the red and the font choice act like a pictogram choice (e.g. they are the same kind of choice as using a rook for Chess). See the Craft CMS homepage. – Martijn Pieters Aug 31 '14 at 8:17

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