Challenge: To create an illustration style
Illustration has become a core component to help create an identity that is both unique and glorious in its appearance. Introducing illustration into your brands blood, allows the design team to break the doors of perception and travel into an area that was once only inhabited by the surrealists of years gone by. Ok, enough of the regurgitated artistic spiel ;)
Over the last year, we’ve been exploring various illustration styles that we feel match our core brand identity. It has been a long and rocky road at times. We’ve fleshed out many different styles, but after an arduous process, we’ve finalised our illustration style.
We’ve explored various styles that at the time felt like we were moving in the right direction, only to realise that it just wasn’t the right fit for us. Finding the right style is never an easy process. A lot of different attributes need to align. It’s almost like finding your one true love. You have to find the one that fits. And how do you know you’ve found the one? You just do. It just feels right, it just feels visceral.
We use illustrations across our platform and marketing material to bring our product to life. The illustrations are used to enforce our brands personality, and to educate our users without overpowering them with too much content.
Our style is unique to Qstream. It’s friendly and fun but corporate enough to show we’re serious about what we do. We have developed a style that is recognisable and by using a visual hierarchy of styles, it allows us to use a broad range of different styles but still remain consistent.
We use our illustration style to inject personality. From powerpoint presentations, to user onboarding, our illustration style is used to show who we are and what we’re about. We think carefully about the metaphors we use for our illustration sets. That tied with our style of quite abstract shapes and colour usage sets us apart from the rest. There is a fine line between coming across too playful so we need to be careful about how we approach the technique when creating our illustrations.
By developing 3 different types of consistent iconography/illustration styles, it allows us to have a responsive style depending on it’s use case. For instance, on a small bullet point list, we’d use our smallest style, but for a large scene illustration we’d use our main illustration style. Therefore we can offer a range of choices but still remain consistent. You can see an overview of the styles available here.
We have a simple colour palette. We use our core colour palette to push our brand identity as much as possible. It helps use reinforce our primary colour set. But we bring a twist to our style by allowing these colours to overlap giving us some more diversity to play with.
They are used to showcase specific features or to help educate the user in times of confusion or lifelessness. They’re straightforward and generally to the point but the level of detail in each is enough to introduce depth and allow us to tell a story. We try not to complicate the metaphor though as we feel that is counterproductive.
Large icons are used to draw the eye to specific areas of interest on the feature. They are not used to explain, or to divulge too much information. More so to highlight a certain component. They are always straightforward and never overcomplicated.
Small icons are nothing more than glorified glyph icons. They are used for lists, or for highlighting areas, but are not to be of a considerable size that they would be too noticeable. Simplicity is key.
This style generally doesn’t get used a great deal. It’s basically an expanded version of our illustration style, but we try to introduce another layer of detail to allow us to inject more information. Our style should never be disrupted by overuse of elements or detail. Getting the right about of detail is key.
How do we see it developing
Brands develop, so I’d like to imagine our illustration style will develop alongside it. The style is still in its infancy. We’re still trying to find it’s vulnerabilities and limitations. As we expand, and the core illustration set expands, I expect it to deviate. I have no doubt that random and off the wall requests will come in from different areas of the business. It will be up to us as a design team to protect the consistency as a whole, to deflect anything that we feel may harm the overall style. Not an easy task, but nothing is when you’re trying to keep design consistency at business level.