Like any large organization, our company generates a lot of information. This is a serious challenge to the creative department, since it is the designers who have to draw up and illustrate the endless flows of marketing and other communications. The more our colleagues want to tell, the more often they ask to illustrate this, since huge masses of text themselves are perceived poorly or too slowly.
Let the designers play the constructor!
When there were too many requests for illustration, we realized that it was pointless to put the same type of stub from photo banks into the text over and over again. We thought about replacing the photographs in the illustration, but in such a way that their production could be put on stream. In addition, it was necessary to create a fairly simple and flexible system so that the work of different designers looked uniform, and the graphic language made it possible to visualize even such an abstraction as the resistance of cloud backup to malware.
For the mass production of anything you need a conveyor belt, including for illustrations. They can also be assembled in stages from pre-prepared components. There are a lot of such techniques, for example, collage, pattern or generative graphics. We decided to assemble from small modules – as in the children's designer – a volumetric illustration in isometry, that is, in space without perspective. The lack of perspective allows you to collect a picture of any size and depth without the need to deform the plot details, depending on whether they are closer or farther from the viewer or the center of the composition. By the way, any flat vector graphics can be easily converted to isometry using the plug-in for Adobe Illustrator.
Having agreed on the basic style elements – colors, gradients, fillets – we were already able to distribute the work on creating the components of the future designer among several designers. All new details were added to the shared library, so more complex things were built on the basis of simple modules according to the Atomic design principle.
Why are the ancient Egyptians needed
The next stage of working with the designer is to turn it into a message language. Here we applied the same technique that interface designers now use, and before them, ancient civilizations that transmitted messages using pictograms. In such a language, each individual sign implies a certain concept, and a combination of signs – several interrelated concepts. This fundamentally solves the problem with the selection of illustrations. If earlier in the material about 5 cloud services you had to look in the sinks for 5 different pictures about the clouds, or put one common one, now you could illustrate each service. Moreover, there was no need to invent metaphors for abstract concepts at all – it was enough to combine a set of pictograms corresponding to the description of the service, and the illustration was ready.
To be precise, our language is based not on pictograms, but on ideograms – as in Ancient Egypt. The difference of an ideogram is that a symbol does not literally convey one word, but also allows related concepts: cloud storage, cloud service, transfer to the cloud – illustrations for all of the above will begin with a cloud icon.
We learned how to visualize a secure process for transferring data to the cloud and similar processes, but can we share the same language about successful collaboration with HP Enterprise? This is a completely new level of abstraction; there is not a single specific object in it that could be illustrated with a pictogram. You will not begin to draw a handshake of two bosses? We decided to use other recognizable pictograms – logos of our partners. We combined them with data streams hinting that our software works on affiliate hardware. Of course, this is not so much clear as beautiful, but the abstractness of the message as a whole allows such liberties. The main thing is that the picture is unique for our communication.
It’s not enough to redo the entire corporate style of illustration, it must be approved with management. This helped our competitor and a man in a helmet. For a long time, the question of the uniqueness of visual content did not bother anyone except designers. Until one fine day it turned out that on our website and on the competitor's website in the services section for extractive industries there is the same picture from the photo bank, with the only difference being that the competitors have a blue builder's helmet (their corporate color), and we have green (our corporate color). Jealousy for competitors came so on time and by the way that there were no questions why we needed unique visual content.
However, it took a year for the company to get used to the new visual style. When this happened, a new problem arose – consistency. When isometry “went to the people”, illustrations intended to convey certain concepts began to appear randomly and in conjunction with different texts. Ironically, we wanted to get away from photo banks, but came to the need to create our own image bank with an advanced tag search system.
The main thing is that our vice presidents of marketing, previously indifferent to illustrations, demanded a new style in the communication of the product line. While it is noticeable a little, but with the release of VAS V10 this will change. Preparing new pages in the process. Gradually we will update the visual communication of the entire portfolio of the company.