Chapter 11. Illustrations and Animated Characters in Branding

This will be a substantial chapter. If a fictional (or animated) character emerges as the foundation of the brand's communication platform, it can be an effective branding strategy. For example, in sports branding, hockey clubs often use animal metaphors or fictional characters like the Snowman for the hockey club "Sibir" ("Siberia").
Companies from other industries have also adopted this approach, driven by the need to personalize communication with potential and existing clients. Investing in a media-friendly living character, who can leave at any moment (for example, a marketing director), can be quite risky. In contrast, having a pocket character can be very beneficial.
This tool significantly shortens the distance between the business and the client. Well-executed communication makes interactions easy and trusting. As trust is the foundation of any sale, this approach is valuable. We naturally have a positive attitude towards animated characters, and such characters can engage with clients in chats, messengers, and even have their own sets of stickers and emojis. In skilled hands, it becomes an effective sales weapon.
Is it worth developing a character, and in what cases do I recommend considering it?
This tool is suitable for companies planning extensive sales communication in the online sphere. In the modern world, that means practically everyone. Yes, that's true, because it's the future, tomorrow.
By the way, it's also a life hack for creating a unique brand name. The thing is, most surnames formed from words are available for registration. For example, upon discovering that the word "Gryadki" (meaning "garden beds" in Russian) was already registered (which is not surprising), I suggested an original name to the client - "Gryadkin". The goal was to create a brand for a restaurant that positioned itself as offering cuisine based on farm-fresh products, "straight from the garden." We developed the image of an enterprising and cheerful farmer, whose illustration became the foundation for the logo of the future restaurant.
And so, we come to the reason why this chapter complements the previous one on logo development and returns us to the naming section. In some cases, the decision to develop an animated character is made at the stage of developing the brand's meaning and then naming. If we understand that communication with potential clients will take place in messengers and social networks, then a character can be an interesting innovative solution.
Take the industry of your brand and list 10-20 simple words related to it. Try to create new surnames from them by adding prefixes or suffixes.
In case you decide to go down this path, consider whether the character will be integrated into the logo or used independently before starting logo development. In the case of the brand "Gryadkin," the answer was evident since the character's surname was directly in the restaurant's name. In another case, when we worked with an existing IT brand "Dialogue Systems," we developed the image of a future female robot named Galina, which complemented the communication platform as an additional tool.
I want to warn you to avoid overload. There may be a temptation to include very cool creatives, but they can confuse potential clients and become unnecessary. Everything should be guided by the logic of expediency. So, when making decisions about your brand character, remember that the character's image should align with the brand's image.
Define the qualities your character will possess, describe their personality in as much detail as possible, including their manner of speaking and favorite words. Create a reference map and mood board to determine the illustration style. You can begin searching for an illustrator on freelance marketplaces. Developing the character should be done before designing the logo if it will be the foundation of the logo. In that case, the character's illustration will replace the symbolic (graphic) part of the logo. If the character will be an additional tool for the communication platform, you can work on it after designing the logo, but consider ensuring that the character's style aligns with the logo's style.
Our character, "Gryadkin," holds a basket with fresh vegetables. These vegetables were drawn separately and integrated into the corporate identity system, supporting the brand's main message. When creating your own character, you can think of a system of objects with which they interact. For example, a repairman might have tools, or a chef could have kitchen utensils. These small details can form a recognizable pattern (a repeating element of the corporate identity) that can be used in interior and exterior branding.
In some cases, logos are hand-drawn, such as in the case of a brand for a children's art school or visual arts, where a logo may be entirely hand-drawn and then digitized. The key is to ensure the name remains readable, and overall, it's an unusual and interesting approach, though it's relatively rare in my professional experience.
The Importance of Mascots in Branding: How They Impact Brand Communication
In the modern world of branding and marketing, the use of mascots is becoming increasingly popular and effective as a way to establish an emotional connection with the audience. Mascots are characters or symbols that become visual representations of a brand and interact with the audience. In this article, we will explore the cases in which mascots are used in branding and how their use influences brand communication.
1. Establishing an Emotional Connection
Mascots help establish an emotional connection with the audience. They create a friendly and approachable brand image that can evoke positive emotions among consumers. Mascots can be fun, cute, or amusing, which helps create a positive perception of the brand and strengthens its position in the hearts of consumers.
2. Recognition and Differentiation
Mascots help a brand stand out from the crowd and be recognizable. They create a unique identifier that can be used across various materials and platforms. The mascot becomes a symbol of the brand, and its distinctive features make it distinguishable from competitors. This helps the brand establish its uniqueness and attractiveness to the audience.
3. Simplifying Complex Concepts
Mascots can be used to visualize and simplify complex concepts or information. They can be used in explanatory videos, illustrations, or animations to make intricate ideas more understandable and accessible to the audience. Mascots help visualize abstract concepts and make them more memorable.
4. Building Long-Term Relationships
Mascots create an opportunity for building long-term relationships with the audience. When a mascot becomes a recognizable symbol of the brand, it can become a trusted companion and create an emotional bond with consumers. People may start associating the mascot with specific brand values and characteristics, which strengthens their loyalty and devotion to the brand.
5. Opportunities for communication and interactivity
Mascots provide the brand with the opportunity to interact with the audience on various platforms and communication channels. They can be used in social networks, advertising campaigns, events and other marketing initiatives. Mascots become the voice of the brand and allow you to establish a more direct and personal communication with the audience.
6. Creating a long-term brand image
Mascots can be a key element in creating a long-term brand image. They become a visual symbol of the brand, which can remain unchanged for many years. The recognizability and consistency of using the mascot in various contexts help to create a strong brand image that is associated with the brand at a subconscious level among consumers.
In conclusion, the use of mascots in branding plays an important role in brand communication with the audience. They help to establish an emotional connection, brand awareness and uniqueness, simplify complex concepts, build long-term relationships, provide opportunities for communication and create a long-term brand image. Mascots become visual representatives of the brand and play an important role in shaping its visual communication.

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