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What is the difference between the cloud icon on the mobile app?

cloudAsset is only available in the cloud and was uploaded from some other device (like the web client) or was deleted from this device after upload
cloud-crossAsset is only available locally and has not yet been backed up
cloud-doneAsset was uploaded from this device and is now backed up in the cloud/server and still available in original on the device

How can I sync an existing directory with Immich's server?

Immich doesn't have the mechanism to sync an existing directory with the server. There is however, a helper CLI tool to help you bulk upload the existing photos and videos to the server. You can find the guide to use the CLI tool here.

The initial approach of Immich is to become a backup tool, primarily for mobile device usage. Thus, all the assets must be uploaded from the mobile client. The app was architectured to perform that job well.