SLUIT SCHERM

ABOUT VISUAL BRANDING

Twisted Stranger always designs with a purpose, a reason. We aren’t one of those companies that just does what WE like best.

Because, in our case, that would mean our designs would be fueled by a substantial amount of horror, melancholy and ‘cut your wrists and hope to die’. Monsters, vampires and characters with huge, cutesy eyes and a high dosage of ‘Happy tree friends’ and ‘Ren and Stimpy’. Not that strange, as we are (early) 90’s kids. And in our puberty, our ‘Golden age’, these were the things that came up a lot in cartoons, on tv and in other media.
 
No. We design using emotions and experiences.
We have learned that the experiences of a target audience are always shaped by life experience.
Following this universal truth we came up with a theory of our own.

Indeed! Shaped by age categories. SUCH AGEISTS, amiright?
We are screwed! 
While we’re at it, we would like to explain a phenomenon called 'Revival' and we’ll answer the age-old question: why does it seem like all is done and is now merely repeated?

A few years ago we experienced a ‘70s revival and now, it seems we’re looking at an ‘80s revival. How come? And why do young people seemingly love these revivals?

Many people think we’re just walking around in circles. But to quote the immortal Dutch biologist and writer of fiction and non-fiction for children and adults alike, Midas Dekker: “We are not walking in a circle, but in a screw. With every turn, we end up higher or lower than the point of origin”.
 
A good design containing revival influences must therefore never be a literal translation of style elements from the chosen time period. The style from that period must be an inspiration used to do your own thing. Thereby elevating the older style to a higher, more modernised level. 

Here are our findings that we use when going to work for your chosen target audience:

 
 
 

AGES 0-5
THE EXPLORER

Children from this age category are the least influenced by signals and ideas from the outside world. Their days are spent looking at their own toes, pulling the cat’s whiskers, eating, drinking, sleeping, pooping and crying… A lot of pooping and crying. The world around them changes day by day. From crawling to walking and from crying to talking. They’re just starting to discover their likes and dislikes.
The first stages of individuality are starting to show.
WHAT DOES THE EXPLORER LIKE TO DO?

Playing games, discovering new things, eat cat food (when they know they're not allowed), looking for boundaries and most of all: repeating, repeating, repeating. This is how they learn.
WHAT DOES THE EXPLORER WANT TO SEE?
Shapes:
Basic shapes. Shapes they can understand.




 
Illustrations:
Of course, but keep it simple and characteristic. At this age, children tend to focus on the pupils of an eye. When you leave these out, a cute illustration can go scary instantly.
References:
Everything they (aren’t allowed to) see on tv. The games they play on their tablets or game consoles. Superheroes are ‘tha bomb’. A superhero is a genuine figure of authority. Someone they can look up to and be inspired by. Mom and dad are just as big a superhero as Batman to them. 
 
Colors:
They must be used in a realistic, but also in a lavish way. Their understanding of the word ‘color’ has taken a huge leap. Color explosions make them feel like they can ‘handle it’, that they understand it.
WHERE DOES THE EXPLORER SPEND MONEY ON?
Lots and lots of clothes. They seem to grow every day. Also, nice games and toys that help them explore. And food… Lots of food! Also, just about everything (books and movies) that contains fun and happy children’s stories.
 
TONE OF VOICE

Enthusiastic and not too complicated. But be aware! Do not oversimplify. Explorers also like to explore their verbal boundaries. Of course, you can never go wrong with using words like peepee and poopoo, because that’s basically their whole life. From diaper to potty. 

AGES 5-10
THE INDOCTRINATED

Children from this age category are beginning to get more social. They learn how and what to share and not to share with others. They learn how to deal with basic feelings. They learn to lie and to speak the truth. They make friends and enemies. They really look up to figures with authority and soak up everything mommy, daddy and the schoolteacher says and does. They want to be like these people, want to be like the adults in their lives and they want it NOW. This is the perfect age in which to spark creativity and imagination.
 
WHAT DOES THE INDOCTRINATED LIKE TO DO?
Everything their parents like to do. These days we’re all full of the fact that a five year old is able to use an iPad. Like an iPad is some miracle of God because of its simple an innovative usage. Nifty device, sure, but in the end it’s YOU!

It is all because parents aren’t able to look away from that little screen. The indoctrinated child wants to do what the parent does and will do whatever it takes to understand and use the iPad. Just like mom and dad.

Next to that, they love to watch series that are actually a little too difficult for them to understand. Storylines with power-ups and hard to understand connections. Superheroes with special powers and complicated relationships. We, as adults, also marvel about this, but is it really that strange? Weren’t you (if your 30+ years of age now) able to name all the types of marbles and their values, remember all your saved soccer cards and bewilder your parents with this knowledge when you were that age?
 
WHAT DOES THE INDOCTRINATED WANT TO SEE?
Shapes:
It’s gotta be reasonably realistic. You can go all-out using 3D or 3D-ish shapes. Basic shapes are for little kids. They want to be ‘taken seriously’ as much as possible.

 
Illustrations:
Yes indeed, but try to tap in on how they perceive the world. The illustrations shouldn’t be too childish. In their own world they’re already teenagers or adults.
References:
Their own body or those of friends or pets around them. Everything they bump into on their little adventures. Everything they encounter for the first time. Think of the mobile above their bed. That is something they can reference to later in life. 
 
Colors:
Striking, clear colors. Green is always green for the explorer.  There’s no “Sea-Green” or “Aqua-green”. Nope. Us adults see it wrong. It is just GREEN. 
WHERE DOES THE INDOCTRINATED SPEND MONEY ON?
In-app-purchases and games. In the end, it basically all comes down to YOU as a parent. Are you a mom who spends lots of time on her appearance? Your daughter probably likes make-up and grooming kits. Are you, as parents, very busy with recycling, saving or spending money sparingly? Collecting games are likely a hit for your indoctrinated.
 
TONE OF VOICE

Don’t make it too easy for them. Speak to their imagination. Difficult, made up terms about power-ups will quickly be memorized as long as you repeat them consequently.
 
 
 

AGES 10-15
THE SENSITIVES

This is the hardest age category to design for. Why?
Because all of a sudden they have these feelings they never had before.
Sexuality, desire, insecurity.
Because of all these new feelings they are temporarily at a loss.
Everything that was fun for them before, now becomes lame and stupid.
Figures of authority that were idolized before are now told to f#ck off.
Nobody understands them. That’s because they don’t understand themselves.

They’re starting to compare their opinions to those of others.
Their peers play a huge role in this. But also the people that, according to the Sensitive Ones, ‘get it’.

People that they look up to are usually celebrities who get a lot of media attention.
WHAT DOES THE SENSITIVE LIKE TO DO?

Looking at everything that has a screen on it. In a way this is because of the developments they’ve witnessed. The teenagers of now were kids five to ten years ago. That’s exactly when adults first bought their first tablets and smartphones. And they were glued to them. Also, Internet got a much bigger role in our everyday lives at that time. 

So now, what do these  teenagers do after they have seen all this stuff happen….?

Exactly!
The teenagers of today 'waste' hours and hours watching funny, dangerous, informative and challenging YouTube clips, movies, blogs and vlogs. This isn’t strange at all because, like we said before, they need the opinions of others to shape their own (insecure) one. 




 
WHAT DOES THE SENSITIVE WANT TO SEE?
Shapes:

As long as it is modern and isn’t too much frilly frally-ish. That’s something they used to like. They are adults now! Well…

Take a look at the apps and games teens this age like. Websites targeted at them are usually designed a calmer and (aargh we hate this term) less-is-more kind of way. Let’s keep those things in the back of our minds when we design something for them. Patterns, iconic images, don’t get too crazy. 
 

Illustrations:
Could be used, but don’t make anything too fancy. They must have the idea that they can draw it themselves. Choose from designs and characters from their experiences and perceptions.
References:
The peers around them, what they see on the streets, but mostly what they see in the mass media. Popstars, YouTube celebs, everybody who’s older than them. Except their parents and teachers.




 
Colors:
Certainly not too much. Use of it is okay, but not too obvious. Colors which call upon certain emotions are preferred. Contrast is a great example of this.
WHERE DOES THE SENSITIVE SPEND MONEY ON?
Games, apps and gadgets. But also on brand clothing. Rather have a pair of Adidas than three pairs of sturdy Mountain shoes. (Brand) clothing is an easy way to give yourself an identity. You don’t have to think about who you are, the brand does that for you.
TONE OF VOICE
 
Never ever try slang. First off, Sensitives  damn well know that there’s an ad agency behind it, so things quickly fall into the ‘lame’ category. Second, slang changes soooo fast it becomes very old an ‘tried’ when used a little too late. Keep it distant and mature. Or tap in to the things the Sensitives experience on a daily basis. Emotions, emotions, emotions.

AGES 15-25
THE SOCIALITES
(GOLD)

This is what we call the ‘Golden age’. This is the age you’re going to look back on with the most nostalgia. The time when life was easy. When you were the person you wanted to be. When you had the most fun you’ve ever had. Being an adult without the responsibilities of adulthood. The emotions you felt as ‘The Sensitive One’ are now beginning to make sense. The Socialite is starting to establish their own morals and values. They care less and less about what other people say and do. They want to experience. They want to live. And they want it now!
 
WHAT DOES THE SOCIALITE LIKE TO DO?

The social aspects of life get a pretty big boost. All of a sudden friends become real friends. For the first time you’ll fall in love for real! (well…) Going out and experience things. Surrounding themselves with likeminded people. Alcohol, drugs, sex and looks. 

 

Mass media still has a big influence, but what they see becomes their own choice. They become individualistic and signs of a developing taste starts showing.


 
WHAT DOES THE SOCIALITE WANT TO SEE?
Shapes:

 

Everything that is hip and happening. It’s pretty trend sensitive. But how do you start a trend as a burner? Turn on your feelers. Look around you. The ‘Social One’ is starting to develop him- herself. They take their past into their own, ‘new’ taste. 

 

If you’re going for a certain style, then put it out there to the max. No wishy washy of different elements, choose a style and stick to it. They’re looking for a confident attitude, in themselves, but also in the brand or service they want to identify with.






 
Illustrations:
Illustrations can be used. Play the nostalgic card. Cute and adorable is nice, funny and miraculous is cool. The superheroes that used to be fun are making a comeback in their lives again. Authority is something they now want. To be special, distinctive… With their friends for life of course.
References:
Celebrities are still important, but less important than their own clique. Celebrities must have distinct opinions. It’s the age of choices.

Revival:

Designing for this age group opens the possibility to add revival elements to your designs. Why? This age category wants to look as adult as possible. Because they don’t have a reference to an adult taste, they look at the taste of their parents, or pick up elements they think they remember from a young age.

 

If we let a calculation loose on it all, you’ll see that the parents of this age category had their ‘Golden Age’ in the ‘80’s/’90’s. Hence the bright colors, iconic elements like cassette tapes and street art-like elements making a revival these days.
 

Colors:
Pronounced colors. The ‘80’s color scale speaks to emotion and nostalgia. Black and white when your cool enough to not use colors. Actually, almost everything can be used, as long as you stick to your choice. Pick your style and go for it.
WHERE DOES THE SOCIALITE SPEND MONEY ON?
On their social lives. Alcohol, drugs, clubbing. But also on clothes. They want to show where they stand for. Who they are. Making clear cut choices. Wrestling themselves from the masses. Again, together with their friends. Going on holidays and making memories.
 
TONE OF VOICE

Things are allowed to be rude. Direct. Not too much explaining is needed, just do it. For Dutch audiences, English words can be used because this age group spends hours and hours on the internet and smartphones. Clear cut opinions without making any excuses. With this you connect your target audience with your brand. But again, please, don’t use any slang. Opinions, that’s what it’s all about.
 
 

AGES 25-35
THE STRONG-MINDED (DIAMOND)

This age group thinks they know it all. With all their experiences and opinions they have collected during their previous age categories they now developed their own, unique lifestyle complete with an opinion about the world. Their own morals and values being the best ones out there of course. And boy, do they just love to talk about them to everyone that’s willing to listen.

During their previous age categories they have surrounded themselves with a nice group of like- minded people. But because of their current lifestyle, which revolves more and more around a career and personal growth, they now find they have less and less time to sustain all those contacts. So now, quality is preferred to quantity.

WHAT DOES THE STRONG-MINDED LIKE TO DO?
Socializing is still pretty important. But going to a nice bar or restaurant has become a much more preferred place to meet and talk to people and to share their opinions with others. Next to that they want to grow as a person Some choose a career, others a healthy lifestyle, while a third starts thinking of settling down. But all of them have a clear target in sight.  And they plan on  reaching  that goal. And that’s why they’re just busy. Very, very busy.
WHAT DOES THE STRONG-MINDED WANT TO SEE?
Shapes:
They’re less indoctrinated by the zeitgeist. The have a nostalgic feelings about being a child. Because of their busy lifestyle, things have to be clear. It should be, easy to understand and not too much fuss. In some weird way, their lives start all over again.


 
Illustrations:
At the moment, illustrations can be used. This age group grew up on a lot of cartoons and superheroes where a big thing back when they were young. Manga-like illustrations played a role in their development. When your taking a trip to memory lane, give it a twist. Make it look unique, like a new style. Go back to a period that this age group has heard of, but never really experienced.
References:
They’re very fixed on their goals. Play on this. When they’ire going for a healthy lifestyle, give them the feeling that what you’re offering is the most healthy product and/or service out there. Don’t make things too corporate, but sell with feeling. Tell your ‘Why’. If your going for the home sweet home thing, make everything’s cute and warm. A feeling of coming home.

Revival:
When your choosing your style elements from the past, get go back to the ‘60’s/’70’s. These are when their parents had their golden- and diamondant days. Be carefull not to take things to literally. The strong minded wants to be unique. When you copy something, do the opposite of what that something stood for.
 
Colors:
They must be used in a realistic, but also in a lavish way. Their understanding of the word ‘color’ has taken a huge leap. Color explosions make them feel like they can ‘handle it’, that they understand it.
WHERE DOES THE STRONG-MINDED SPEND MONEY ON?
Every burner knows this target audience has the most income to spend. Their first paychecks aren’t spent on responsible choices, but on gadgets and high quality products that will support them in achieving their goals. If the goal is a healthy lifestyle, this will result in ecological and sustainable products with a clear country of origin. If the goal is more career-focused, an expensive and unique laptop or smartphone is their poison.
TONE OF VOICE

Storytelling. Speak to them with emotion and use pearls of wisdom. They want to know the story and the opinions of a company and/or product so that they can see if these match with their own worldviews. Truth and ‘realness’ above everything else. The constant appraisal of products and services is something they  see right through.

AGES 35-50
THE SETTLED

The people in this age category have reached or are about to reach the goals they’ve set for themselves. The results of reaching their goals and maintaining these results have been a higher priority than their personal development. A lot of these people all of a sudden have a family now. An (ex-) partner, a kid or two, and/or a career that demands a lot of them. They’re putting themselves on second place because of this.

With a sense of nostalgia they think back to the days when it was all so simple. When responsibilities didn’t weigh as much as they do now. When you thought you were the real you. When you were the Numero Uno in your life. That golden age of 15 to 25.
 
WHAT DOES THE SETTLED LIKE TO DO?

Social obligations play a big part in their lives now. Family life and the parties that come with it are a priority. Also going on nice long holidays with the kids. 

But sometimes they still want to let loose. Go out and drink waaaaaaay too much. Party ‘till dawn and , see old friends. Only to , go to the gym the next day to get rid of that beer belly and settle for an acceptable two-pack. They want to be themselves every now and again. The want to be the way they were in their Golden Age.

WHAT DOES THE SETTLED WANT TO SEE?
Shapes:
To sell your product or service you have to take look at what was ‘hot and happening’ during their Golden Age. When looking at this age category’s Golden Age we find that MTV started to play a major part in society and the media. Grunge, skateboards, graffiti, bright colors, Manga and absurd cartoons.
 
Illustrations:
These people want to be seen as young people rather than old folks, so don’t make your designs come off as too mature. They all want to be the cool parent, the one that still knows what’s hot and what’s not. Their point of reference is their own Golden Age. This target audience is fairly big in terms of age. So, when you are at a loss about what to design, we suggest you look at the Golden Age of the younger side of this group. This makes sense because the older part of the group wants to be considered as young as possible. So when they see a design they perceive as being for a younger audience used for them, they’ll love it either way. From this age on, the perception of the age group has flipped from wanting to look older to wanting to look younger.
References:
These people want to be seen as young people rather than old folks, so don’t make your designs come off as too mature. They all want to be the cool parent, the one that still knows what’s hot and what’s not. Their point of reference is their own Golden Age. This target audience is fairly big in terms of age. So, when you are at a loss about what to design, we suggest you look at the Golden Age of the younger side of this group. This makes sense because the older part of the group wants to be considered as young as possible. So when they see a design they perceive as being for a younger audience used for them, they’ll love it either way. From this age on, the perception of the age group has flipped from wanting to look older to wanting to look younger. 

Revival:
Actually, we’re looking at a double revival here. The first and foremost is a revival of this group’s Golden Age. This age, also called the Social Age, was of course already dominated by revival elements. If we do the math then we see that the ‘50’s and ‘60’s style elements made them feel mature when people from this category were younger.
 
Colors:
Black and white with the use of another color to accentuate. This goes a long way.  Or think of the hellish cascade of colors from the ‘80’s. This age group has witnessed different movements come to pass. So do some quick math, figure out the different Golden Ages and see what speaks to these people. 
WHERE DOES THE SETTLED SPEND MONEY ON?
Their family or goal in life comes first. But when there’s some money left, they’ll spend it on vacations, relaxation or products and/or services that keep them looking hip and happening.
TONE OF VOICE

This group needs to feel understood. These people are used to loud slogans and a product or service that has that ‘we’re the best’ attitude. They want to be told what to do instead of finding it out for themselves. Of course they’ll filter out the over-the-top slogans, but if this loud-mouthing isn’t used, these people may not believe in your product or service.
 

AGES 60-65
THE EXPERIENCED

This age category has seen it all. They’ve lived a life that’s full. They traveled each and every highway. Their opinions, morals and values are closest to the truth. They also have a nostalgic way of thinking. Not about their Golden but about their Diamond age (The Strong-Minded). Back when they were still full of energy, but less inexperienced as in their Golden Age. The worst thing you can do is treat the Experienced as old and hopeless. They will do anything in their power to show they’re just as lively as the Strongminded.
WHAT DOES THE EXPERIENCED LIKE TO DO?
Their goals are almost achieved and their (grand)children are going their own ways. But, with little more than a few years until retirement, they still do not want to feel obsolete. Many of the people in this age group will go out and find an extra hobby and/or goal so they can still remain an active member of society. They also keep themselves busy with experiencing  new things. Things they were scared of doing before, now all of a sudden seem worth doing. 
WHAT DOES THE EXPERIENCED WANT TO SEE?
Shapes:
To find the right kind of shapes for this group, you have to go back to the time these people were in their twenties/thirties (their Strong-Minded Diamond age). A little bit of calculating and you’ll end up in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. Back when color, love and revolution played a key role.
 
Illustrations:
Not really. The people who are part of this age category at the moment aren’t really brought up in a ‘cartoonish’ society. Photography played a bigger role as it was more of a novelty and an artform  then. Playing with lay-outs, image placing and proportions is optional.
References:
This target group has a lot of life experience but hungers for more. The people in this group are influenced by people who changed course and choose a new lifestyle. Inspiring people who have stories to tell. Intelligent people with an opinion. Politicians, artists, writers  and world improvers.

Revival:
Their Golden Age was in the ‘40’s and ‘50’s, so use elements from that era to create a familiarity for this group.
 
Colors:
The color scheme usable for this group is pretty big. Go back in time and look at psychedelic color combinations or Bauhaus red, black and white. They’ll also love the retro color scheme as seen on seventies lamps and chairs.
WHERE DOES THE EXPERIENCED SPEND MONEY ON?
People from this group usually choose quality over quantity. They hold on to their clothes and accessories for a longer period of time, so they’re willing to spend more money on it. Their daily expenses are getting less and less as they get older, so they have more money to use for a nice holiday or a long term dream they’ve been postponing.
TONE OF VOICE

Don’t be condescending. After all, they have more knowledge than you as a burner have. You can guide them and explain them what to do, but do it in a respectful way. Speak politely whilst not making them  feel too old.

AGES 65-80
THE RESPECTFUL

The age of rest. Goals have been achieved, their families have expanded and now all have lives of their own. Death becomes a bigger part of life as people in this category see more and more relatives and friends come to pass. Loneliness and the monotony of life are things to be dealt with. They don’t want to impose themselves on their (grand)children. Because they know busy life can be as ‘The Strong-Minded’ and ‘The Settled’.
 
WHAT DOES THE RESPECTFUL LIKE TO DO?

It may seem like their lives are more limited day by day. They’re less active, get more physical complaints and think they’ll come across like nagging old folks. Getting out of their monotony is what they want the most. Have someone to talk to, share their experiences with, getting a drink with.  Or maybe someone who inspires them to pick up a hobby. Do not underestimate all of their free time. They really want to be an active member of society. When they have nothing to do, depression can rear its ugly head.

WHAT DOES THE RESPECTFUL WANT TO SEE?
Shapes:
It doesn’t need to be busy., Nothing to loud, but nothing too depressing neither. They still want to laugh and have fun. The people in this category are nostalgic and still think back to their time as ‘The Strong-Minded’, when the world was at their feet. When we do the math, we end up in the ‘40’s and ‘50’s as their Golden Age. Industrialization and an whiff of romance and authenticity.
 
Illustrations:
Although there was some use of illustrations in ‘40’s and ‘50’s mass media, it’s better to use some nice pictures. Pictures from way, back. Back in the days when they were young and were they have some good stories from. If you’re dead set on illustrating, use realism, black and white and stencil shapes.
References:
The opinions of others really don’t count anymore. People from this age category still want to socialize but don’t really care about the morals and values of others any more, famous or not. They refer to their own childhood and the people who were famous back then.



Revival:
No need to use revival elements. They much rather measure themselves to their own memories than to those of others.
 
Colors:
The ‘40’s and ‘50’s were littered with color, but all of classical nature. Nothing too bright, nothing too fancy. But use distinctive colors. Chosoe a warmer pallet.
WHERE DOES THE RESPECTFUL SPEND MONEY ON?
This group of people is a little more stingy. That’s not weird, because they’re from a time were money wasn’t just always there. The basic human needs will always play a role in their lives and they love  a good bargain. Some nice pastry and a good stiff drink will always be a treat for them, not a basic need.
TONE OF VOICE

Always be respectful and polite. Explain things to them but do not belittle them.

CONCLUSION

We base our branding on emotion, on life experience. We don’t just sell, we try to understand who we’re selling to, and why. Understanding your target audience starts by understanding them from birth. You should aim to find out under what circumstances they grew up, what they have experienced, what gave them their opinions about things and how to talk to them. Only then can you come up with a successful branding strategy. 
Keep in mind that when you ‘go back in time’ when designing, there’s always the need for nuance. Not everybody liked the same things, not when they are/were in ‘The Socialite’ age category nor in ‘The Strong-Minded’ one.

For instance, if you’re trying to sell a product or service that would appeal to a sports- playing Socialites or to a Strong-Minded, place yourself in that particular style- differentiation. The taste of a person who identified as a gabber back in the day would be much more suiting than that of a person who identified as an Alto back then.
The origin of a person also plays a big part. The experiences we have/had as Western Europeans are very different from the experiences Americans, Africans  or Asians had.
Still, the calculations and the philosophy are solid as a rock. However, the research into the branding strategy that’s to be used, also depends on other external factors.
We at Twisted Stranger would love to help you with that research. Internet is always our biggest friend, but further studies and experiences from different cultures can also help a lot. That’s how we will always supply the perfect front for your product and/or service. From A to Z. Or, in this case, from 0 to 80 years!  

 
 

ALSO CHECK THIS OUT!

Hold it buddy!
Come with us for just a second!
We wanna know a bit more about you..