When is it a business advantage to think of using a fictional portrayal of something? The advantage is that it creates a visual portrayal of a company or product’s character. A company’s personality is somewhat intangible and an illustration can help. Other times, a reference to the brand’s history or a specific visual identity that is attractive to the audience in question can also be helpful.

So if the boss screams “Hire cartoonist now!” how do we get it right?

Obviously, it has to be appropriate. A cartoon of a drooling doctor with a chain saw isn’t selling plastic surgery any time soon. However if you are putting on a haunted house, bring on Doc Saw!

It should avoid ongepotchket (too much complication) but take advantage of commonalities. For example, not all doctors wear stethoscopes, but one hanging around the neck of a character forces recognition as a doctor. The difficulty with using the stethoscope is that EVERY cartoon doctor has one so the device tends to disappear in the clutter. If you compete in a crowded field your customer’s eyes are already glazed over with similarity.

A creative example

My friends at Leading Results compete in the area of online marketing and needed to differentiate themselves. Part of their solution was the use of a brand character.

The original rendering of Roco (Leading Result’s content monster) was creative and well executed by another artist and serves his purpose well. More importantly, Roco clearly connected Leading Results’ attention to content as a core value within the brand character.

The assignment for Amazingly Creative was to keep Roco as Roco, but put Roco in different poses and activities to illustrate the key points that Leading Results would be making in other print and web materials. The turnaround time was accelerated due to various factors and Amazingly Creative was happy to comply.

The challenge in any such assignment is that activity equals mobility and all of the attendant issues. The original Roco is well concepted and executed, but the feet don’t look as capable as the hands. Thinking through hands and feet, posture and grip, stance and dynamic motion requires creativity and a healthy dose of “what if?”

However, you have to stay close enough to the original character that (he, she, it??) is recognizable and ultimately you have to ask, does it really look like (Roco in this case) is really surfing? Mining? Teaching?

If this has piqued your interest, contact me. Send me a creative brief and I will send you a rough draft, no obligation. The only caveat is that you can’t use the rough in any publication internal or external. If we decide to move ahead with an engagement, we can always formalize the agreement.