Developing Brand Character Illustrations That Engage
Character illustrations can be a valuable way to build and support a company’s visual brand.
In the torrent of marketing content, a brand’s visual expression has the power to sink or sail its company.
The primary task of brand visuals is to express the company’s message and connect with its audience. At its best, a strong brand image is recognizable and familiar across all the varying media outlets, resonates with its consumers in a way that builds trust and loyalty, and guides its company’s decisions in the marketplace.
A brand image is created from, and represented by, all outward-facing visual elements of its company. From color to typeface, icons to logos, it is critical for a brand to thoughtfully choose and orchestrate each visual piece to correctly convey and communicate its purpose. In some cases character illustrations can be added to the mix for a powerful and engaging effect.
Why create a character?
Character illustrations, with personified attributes that properly represent your brand, help to introduce and further develop your company’s narrative in a way that other visual elements cannot. Illustrations allow you to form and display situations outside the rules that inhibit other visual assets. Because illustrated characters can operate in worlds outside of our reality, you can create visuals from the brand’s point of view. This enables the brand to express itself on a more emotional, human level to connect with your audience, and shape its perception.
What does your character say about your brand?
Character development goes beyond what your audience sees. Done properly, personified characters represent much more on an emotive and even subconscious level. How your characters dress, what colors they wear, what sizes and shapes they take, and how they move in their fictional world all impact your audience consciously and subliminally. For example, a company with visionary and futuristic principles may depict their characters in colors such as purple and gold to represent powerful, even magical, abilities, while their characters may fly or float, breaking the rules of what we deem possible. Conversely, a company with reliability and steadfastness as ideals may depict characters dorning earth-tones, greens and browns, operating by the laws of physics, moving through their fictional space in an orderly way to indicate a grounded, dependable and “down-to-earth” perception. Know your target audience and consider how subtle visual elements will impact how your product is perceived.
What style should be used?
To most effectively evoke an emotional connection, it's important to choose an illustration style that best represents your brand’s character—its essence—as a whole. Use of colors, shades, shaping, dimensions, level of detail, laws of physics, and so on, are all elements you will use to communicate aspects of your brand’s personality, messaging, and vision. How do you want your brand to be perceived? Is your company futuristic or traditional? Playful or focused? Inclusive or exclusive? These are the types of traits to look for to guide your character style development.
At ATOMIC D, we follow a simple but thorough process of identifying a company’s visual essence to ensure the style we develop communicates a brand’s attributes. We’ll be exploring in future posts more specific examples of character development we’ve done for brands, as well as our processes for other visual elements for branding.