Iconic illustrates well the fate of many beautiful words, which are exploited and ruined, as is so often the case with beautiful young people. It has been with us since at least the 17th century, but was always in the background, used sparingly and tastefully and as needed. In art, it was applied to the ancient portrait statues of victorious athletes and memorial statues. It had technical uses in semiotics and special significance in the Catholic religion, to name only a few applications.
More recently, half-educated journalists and Madison Avenue and other writers with no imagination of their own have gotten their hooks in it an run it into the ground.
As originally used, the word could be translated as bildlich, bildhaft, anschaulich, porträtierend, even ikonisch in some cases. Other possibilities include: exemplarisch, beispielhaft, hervorragend, Musterexemplar, . . ist das Bild, der Inbegriff (Siehe auch: iconic species, which mad referred to early on).