By now it should be clear that we are really passionate about illustrating and we believe that an illustrative approach leads to a unique marketing angle for your brand or service. Not only will an avatar set you apart from the boring masses, our character designs are also one of our unique calling cards. The massive amount of open applications and requests for internship shows that we clearly aren’t the only designers out there who look at the art of illustration as a privilege.
Ever since 2007 (the PRORENS days) we’ve consistently sold our signature illustrations to both business- and commercial clients alike. It was difficult. Very difficult. Because most companies saw illustrations as ‘something for children’ or ‘unprofessional’.
In that same year, 2007, we also noted a huge rise in the use of stock images and stock photography. The dominating imagery? Smiling ladies with one leg up, lying happily in front of their laptop. These unnatural, bland and uninspired images pretty much dominated all brand design for businesses. All at the expense of a unique identity and the 'joie de vivre', that a company should have.
Something had to change! That’s when we came up with avatars.. for business! A digital mascot that would translate the identity of a company a million times better than those awful stock images with the jumping, high-fiving executives (seriously, don't these guys have shirts and pants to iron?).
2007 WAS A [BORING] YEAR OF UNIFORMITY
WHAT IS AN AVATAR [CHARACTER]??!
LEMME TELL YA
An avatar is a (digital) way to give some personality to your brand or product. A mascot if you will. Let us explain!
THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY
You have probably seen Billy from Bol.com. This avatar captures the personality of the company perfectly. He’s “full”, so you link that to a company that’s filled with the things you want. The company name also means chubby or “full”. Billy is a carefree man that really makes an effort to help. He’s the virtual assistant for your online customer service. And when Bol.com is having the Bulkweken (weeks that you can buy a lot of stuff cheaper in bulk) Billy transforms into a Hulk-like BILLY. Making him strong enough to handle your huge orders. Billy has a wide range of possible emotions and he’s a real eyecatcher. We didn't design Billy, but we did beat the agency that did on another assignment..
Van Landschot Bankiers on the other hand is waaaaaay off with their avatar, Evi. The biggest issue of Evi is that she doesn’t have a face! No expression, no emotion, no nothing! It’s like Van Landschot wants the world to look at their company as some faceless, emotionless entity. And that’s about the last thing a bank should be portrayed as, if you ask us. Certainly not in todays “I want to be treated as a person, not a number” zeitgeist and the personal connection people want to feel towards a brand or company.
Now that we’ve discussed some examples that weren’t ours, why don’t we go ahead and tell you about some of our own Twisted successes regarding avatars. Let’s look at Bink and Bibi for example. They are avatars that were created for KinderThuisZorg. This is a company that specializes in in-home care for children. Bink’s in a wheelchair and Bibi wears a feeding tube. Both of them receive care from KinderThuisZorg. In their world there is a lot of room for fantasy and they get to deal with all the emotions every child (whether they’re ill or not) deal with on a daily basis.
On this page you will also see some of our other stars, but still not all of them. We have to stay selective.
LET’S DEBUNK SOME STUFF WE HEARD OVER THE YEARS
AN AVATAR IS EXPENSIVE
It’s true. We don’t need to sugarcoat that. After all, every illustration featuring your avatar needs to be hand-drawn. But because Twisted Stranger supplies its clients with vector-based images (including the colorizing) we can make and re-use existing material. This way we can shape the avatar in all poses and expressions. After a while an image bank, including a variety of these poses and expressions, will start to form. That means that, after a while, creating a new item with your avatar will become cheaper. The reusable qualities can eventually make avatars cheaper than photography.
Vector-based images also have the advantage that you don’t have to worry about the resolution of your avatar. An avatar created by Twisted Stranger can be scaled to the size of a football field without worrying about the pixels or loss of quality! Try that one on for size!
LET'S DO THE [ROBOT]!!!
DEBUNK THAT EVEN MORE
The use of an avatar gives a certain uniqueness to your product and/or the service you provide. After all, no-one else can use your avatar. It’s made especially for you and your company. This makes it easier for you to separate yourself from the masses.
Stock images and stock photographs however can be used and re-used by everybody. That means everyone is able to use the same images that you paid for on a stock image site. That’s not what you want for you carefully constructed image!
Well, what if I want to spend a ton of money on a photoshoot? That ensures I end up with original and exclusive images!” Sure, that’s a possibility. But have you already thought about the fact that the model you are going to choose doesn’t work exclusively for your company? And, are you sure you thought of ALL the possible different situations you wanted to capture in the shoot? Otherwise, reshooting might be needed later on. *KA-CHING*
If you want to be edgy, unique, different and versatile, get yourself an avatar or illustration to determine your look and feel. We know of a nice company that can make you one…
WE'RE NOT DONE QUITE YET...
Your avatar can do everything! It can fly, it can be a superhero, it can carry the world with a single hand. But it can also be super business-like or, with a few adjustments, it can even be super smart or super sexy.
What also comes in handy is its adaptability to situations. Give it a Santa hat when it’s Christmas season or some bunny ears come Easter. No need for new shoots, no wasting money on one-time-use stock photography subscriptions. With one simple request you will have your seasonal images in no time.
AN AVATAR IS CHILDISH
If you ask us, you’ll never say anything this silly again. Since 2007, illustrations’ image improved. All the major players these days use some form of avatar, illustration or icon to convey their message.
Of course, some avatars are a hit-and-miss. Designing the right character is closely connected to the right ‘visual branding’ (for more info about this, look at the ‘over visual branding’ page). Sometimes that means not using an avatar or illustrative approach at all.
Always make sure to properly establish the personality of the avatar and how this fits with your brand design or -image.
YOU SHOULD BE CONVINCED BY NOW! WHY NOT ANSWER SOME QUESTIONS BEFORE YOU GO GO?
WHAT’S YOUR PERSONALITY?
Who are you as a company and how do you want the outside world to look at it. What do you want your products to represent? What is the personality you want give them, and what is your own personality? Obviously, this personality must be reflected in your avatar. Do you and your company or product stand for coolness and vigor, then the look of your avatar should be almost square-like. Are you and your company approachable and friendly, then a rounder looking physical appearance is more appropriate.
WHAT’S THE PURPOSE OF YOUR AVATAR?
This is also a very important question during the designing of your avatar. Short, stubby limbs will give your avatar that fair amount of ‘cuddle-wuddleness’. But there is a pitfall to this as well.
The disadvantage of working with abnormal proportions is that your avatar will lack the abilities to show certain basic human actions. Crossing arms, carrying large amounts of products. As a T-rex could confirm: carrying stuff is just very difficult with very short arms. Want to put your avatar to work? Give it a nice, long pair of arms.
Think real hard about what you want your avatar to be capable of. In this case, purpose beats form.
HOW OLD IS YOUR AVATAR?
Your avatar should speak to your target audience. If you have a clear view of the age category of your audience, we highly recommend you let us design you an avatar of that same age. This will create a connection between your audience and your avatar.
An avatar can be made for every age category. The lower the eyes of the avatar, the younger your avatar looks. The more ‘cute’ in a sense. This is because new born animals, including humans, are born with a dis-proprtioned head. Their foreheads are ‘larger’ in comparrison. And we as humans think newborns are adorable. Create an avatar with low eyes and we automatically think they are cute.
In short: the more anatomically correct an avatars face is, the older it becomes.
IN CONCLUSION: ALL ABOUT AVATAR!
We think you can almost never go wrong with an avatar, yet there are projects where we can’t use them at all. The avatar should fit with the age category of your target audience. Creativity and setting yourself apart does not only happen when you decide to illustrate, but it sure CAN help! We would love to figure out the best fit for you.