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Why Your Business Needs A Brand Illustration System

Do you remember the Red Bull ads with the whimsical doodles and the wings? Or Fido Dido, the cartoon character that represented 7Up’s brand personality on television?

Many of the big brands have experimented and reaped the power of custom illustrations even before it was mainstream. So, what was it that made them so enticing? Did people like ads with illustrations and mascots because of the fun element or is there more to unpack here?

Doodles and custom illustrations are a great way to express complex emotions and unquantifiable values to customers. And they are more effective too. 

Consider this: Is it better if a brand just tells you that their drink will give you wings? Or is it better if they show a man flying because he had their drink? The latter, of course. Seeing is believing.

But, we are here to talk about something bigger and more elaborate than the usage of a one-off illustration. We’re talking about an entire brand illustration system.

Brand Illustration Systems Decoded 

The branding world is changing and companies can no longer survive long term without a unique personality or a visual identity. Personalities and relatability sell. Humans today need a human touch in everything they do. Even when those interactions are online.

Many brands turn to custom illustrations to add a unique, relatable and memorable touch to their branding. But a brand illustration system goes beyond just that one element.

Brand Illustration is a process of using illustrations to bring out your company’s attributes, character, and personality in the market. It is how you go beyond just humanizing your brand via content and design, to personifying as a living, breathing entity itself. 

With illustrations, you can convey deeper nuances of your personality beyond what is possible with logos, typeface, color, and design styles. 

Doodles on a web page, illustrations to display products, and blobs to describe processes – they are all part of what makes up brand illustration.

So what is a brand illustration system? 

Brand illustration systems are made up of imagery that conveys a specific style and a specific mood. This imagery can include a wide range of elements such as icons, characters, and colors. And the goal of all this imagery? To clearly present a brand’s promise.

And there’s more. A brand illustration system lays down the guidelines for the usage of illustration elements for a brand. This includes all the finer details, possible use-cases, and iterations. And in turn, makes it easier for anyone in the company to use the illustrations to deliver messages consistently. 

The need for a brand illustration system comes from the fact that marketing and content creation play a huge role in every interaction with consumers. 

And this is true across industries, and brands of all sizes. Content creation and distribution are a part of every business today. Every interface, every customer touchpoint, and process has to reflect your brand personality. Even if it does not seem to directly relate to marketing. Because each of these touchpoints is a part of the brand story you’re selling.

Illustrations are no longer an element to limit to occasional advertising or promotional activities. You can use them at every stage of sharing your brand’s story. 

Why does your business need a brand illustration system? 

By building a comprehensive system, you cut down on wait times, branding inconsistency, and reliance on a single design team. 

For a small business or startup, a brand illustration system means planning for the future when your communication will be stretched across mediums like web, print, and even television. 

With brand illustration systems, you can transport your customer from the real world to the one you build. And by doing this you can help them understand what it would be like to use your product. Much like the Red Bull advertisement. 

They also help you build relatability with your brand by depicting real-life scenarios, and resonating with their needs.

Now that we’ve looked at the benefits of a brand illustration system, let’s look at what goes into building one. 

Kimp Graphics brings you a curated list about building your own brand illustration system. Even if you work with a designer, this will help you assess whether the end product would work for your business or not. 

Let’s take a look.

A breakdown of a Brand Illustration System for your brand

Understanding what goes into a brand illustration system can help you choose the elements, the mood, and the personality of the characters you want to include with clarity. As opposed to how it looks once it is finished, there are a lot of elements, principles, and hard work that come together to make the perfect brand illustration system. 

Brand illustration design and systems are a perfect marriage of design and branding. You need buyer persona knowledge, design understanding, and marketing insight to bring one to life the right way.

While you can contact a design team for this, as most businesses too, a little knowledge never hurt anyone. Especially when it will help you sell better. 

So, let’s dive right in.

Components of a Brand Illustration System: 

First off, no brand illustration system is like another as the components will be more or less based on what a business’ goals are. So, feel free to adapt the following as it works best for your brand:

Brand personality 

Everything in marketing and branding starts with the question of who you are and what you want to project to your customers. Your design guide, content tone, and actual content build from this. For a brand illustration system, you need personality quantifiers or adjectives that describe you as a person. For example, team player, excited, curious, playful, feminine, masculine, and serene, to name a few. Once you’re clear on your brand personality it can be reflected in your illustrations.

Color palette

An obvious choice for most businesses is to go with their brand colors and it is a good decision. But, there are few more decisions to make such as additional colors for contrast, color usage in different backgrounds, mediums, and devices. By anticipating and planning for all the places your illustrations will appear, you can ensure the colors used within them are effective.

Style 

If you want to achieve branding consistency, then you have to finalize every little detail such as recurring patterns, stroke styles, shapes used, and background colors if any. Identifying and finalizing these details will make it easier to have a consistent style everywhere your illustrations appear. 

Scenarios

The idea of a brand illustration system is to create a world that customers can visually inhabit and experience the benefits of working with your company. Detailing scenarios and different instances plays a vital role in creating this world. The scenarios must be consistent across the board and also depict an experience that aligns with the brand’s image. Illustrations must play out like theatre for the customer to have an impact on them.

Best Practices to Build a Brand Illustration System for your Business 

  • Take your time understanding your market so that the illustration system reflects the customer you are catering to. 
  • Define the use cases for your illustrations so that the design team can modify the illustrations for different use-cases like websites, apps, packaging design, and larger formats.
  • Prioritize research and take your time iterating the designs until you arrive at something that suits your brand.
  • Understand the aim is not to create a mascot alone. It is to build a world that is relatable to the audience and unique to your business. 

How big brands use Brand Illustration Systems + Lessons Learned 

Source: Alice Lee
Slack

The world of tech is grateful for Slack, especially during the pandemic. The team management software has made it easy for people to work from home remotely without a lot of hiccups. Even before that the brand wanted to position itself as someone who makes office work happier.

The brand’s illustration system depicted this in spades through many different scenarios. What’s interesting to note is that the system has an array of color palettes without overpowering each illustration. 

The scenarios are also easy to relate to and the addition of movement to the characters connects with people on a deeper level.

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Source: Mailchimp
MailChimp 

Mailchimp has a brilliant brand illustration system. The company has an illustrated monkey on its logo and the same vector-style illustration follows through everywhere. While it uses a few different colors across its website, the brand strategically uses the bright yellow color from its logo in illustrations and calls to action.

Its website pages combine its brand illustration system with images of the software being used successfully. As a result it gives off a creative persona. At the same time, it also keeps up a no-nonsense appearance for customers who are looking for a professional email marketing service.

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Source: Mailchimp

This style is visible across all its social media profiles, giving the brand consistency everywhere it markets its services. 

Mailchimp teaches us it is okay to have different types of illustration in your systems as long as they are tied together with common elements like style and color. 

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Source: Mailchimp
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Source: Etsy
Etsy 

Etsy is one of the most well-known marketplaces in the world. It works with local artisans to sell their bespoke work. The brand personality reflects that and it comes off as quirky and innovative. 

And the brand illustrations tie in with the logo and the orange color makes its presence felt everywhere in Etsy’s designs. Interestingly, the characters and the designs also have a unique style that mimics the products on the website.

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Source: Etsy

Additionally, the brand uses animated illustrations to provide a unique and engaging experience to its users. 

Etsy’s brand illustration system tells us that the more the illustrations reflect your brand story the better for you. The users connect with you and it goes from being a mere element in branding to your identity itself.

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Source: Salesforce
Salesforce 

Salesforce is a brand that claims to be the world’s #1 customer relationship management platform. Everything right from marketing, sales, commerce, and IT functions for corporate companies comes with this tool. 

Given that management is their forte, the brand uses a serene and customized landscape illustration for each page of their website giving out a sense of calm and security.

The website is also a great example of full-page illustrations that do not crowd the page and blend well with the content at hand. The mascot figure is also quite innovative and appealing to the dynamic customer base using their products.

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Source: Salesforce

The brand uses a minimalist color palette to highlight the content and ensures that the illustration is a nice touch but not a focus element.

It is a good example for brands who want to keep it simple but still effective.

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Source: Headspace
Headspace 

Headspace is a stress-relief and mindfulness app. The brand has a very emotional connection with its users. Now, the company could just talk about calm, happiness, and peace. Or they can do this AND convey these ideas via illustrations. The second route is what they took.

The website is full of happy, cheerful faces with a color palette that instantly puts you at peace and makes you want to smile too. The color tones are quite subdued and it is the expression that catches your attention.

Everywhere, the brand chooses to project a happy and friendly personality through the illustration system and the overall branding. 

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Source: Headspace

Choose Kimp to build a Brand Illustration System true to your Brand 

Illustration humanizes your brand and a system ensures you show the same face to everyone. Building a brand illustration system is very important if your business wants to use illustrations to stand out in your niche.

You need a design team with expertise and passion to bring your ideas to life. And one that gives you the flexibility to tweak until your illustrations are just right. With custom illustrations, and unlimited revisions, available for a flat monthly fee, Kimp Graphics is the design solution you need.

Sign up for a free, no-obligation trial today!