Introduction to Character Design
Character design is the complicated creative process of creating a character that suits your needs and goals. Character design can be a very different process for businesses. The character has to stick around for a long time to create familiarity and brand awareness. The chronicity of the character entails the perfect design that will represent you in the future.
Character Design can be a very important part of digital marketing success. Your character would be used in your animation videos used in your digital marketing strategies. It would be the front page that most people see when they start to know you.
If you feel you are not proud being represented by the character, then scrap, and back to the drawing board. Most importantly, you should regard this process as if you only have one shot. Changing characters multiple times can create confusion and be very expensive and time consuming.
Business Character Design Process
Setting Up Goals and Brand:
This might all seem irrelevant towards building your character; however, not understanding your goals or image can lead to a mismatch of who you want to be, and what your character (mascot) represents.
Remember, a character is always just a representation of an idea, your idea. If you can’t figure out who you are, how would the audience understand what your character represents?
To understand what the character needs to do and how it should like, you should understand your own goals and bran d first. Setting up long- and short-term goals makes the character future-proof. Are your goals to be international? Premium? Affordable? Local?
To create effective goals that will represent your brand image you should be honest but ambitious. Setting up too high of a bar makes reaching it almost impossible. Make your goals realistic and document them. Read them a thousand time to internalize them.
Make them public and share them with everyone. Short-term goals should be steps towards the long-term goals. Your progress towards your goals is a great measure of your potential.
Once the goals have been set and shared, build your brand around them. Do you want to be international? Include a multicultural employee base. Want to be local? Be proud of that and build your image around serving your people and county.
The character would be built around your goals, to supplement them, represent them, explain them, not contradict them. What can be regarded as good or bad character is mostly subjective. I still compiled a list of what I think is good or bad.
Knowing your Audience
This is the single most important factor that influences what your character should look like. Are you a B2B company or a B2C company? What are you selling? Are you local? Are you selling to mothers? Is your audience young? Are you selling entertainment or medical supplies?
Relatability is a very important factor for attracting the audience. The character doesn’t have to mimic your audience in the way it acts or looks. It has to mimic who they want to be and who they look up to.
A teen doesn’t want to hear advice from another teen. They want to hear advice from someone they trust. A father figure or a teacher figure. An old man doesn’t want to get medical supplies from another old man. They want the comfort of knowing it was prescribed by a doctor. Your character should mimic these figures to promote create trust and relatability.
A study in 2016 found that many black people didn’t trust white doctors. This can be an important factor when you are trying to sell medicine to a black population.
Another study in 2010 found that children over 10 were more accepting of products presented by fatherly figures. Mother of children under 5 years old accepted baby related products more readily from medical figures.
These factors should be kept in mind when understanding who you are selling to. There is no clear and direct relationship or formula that I can give you. Market research is the single best option to provide accurate data that helps you create a trust-worthy and relatable character to your audience.
Understanding the purpose of the character
The design should fit the function, not the other way around. Is the character going to be used for educational purposes? Entertainment? Long story-telling animations?
The complexity of character, no matter how appealing, needs to be realistic. Adding accessories, realistic faces, many clothing layers, and more fluidity (such as gooey or fat characters) all add to the complexity.
Heavily animated characters need to be simpler in design to allow an easier animation process and more fluidity. Very complicated characters require a lot of effort, time, and money to make the animation smooth or even acceptable. A simpler character design can keep costs down in longer animations, such as in cartoons and entertainment.
Static or very lightly animated character like ones used in informercials and explainers can be more complicated. These types of settings require a lot less movement to function optimally. The characters can have realistic features and complicated clothing and still be tolerable to animate.
Not planning this ahead can cause added costs of animation that do not really provide any extra benefit.
Realizing Important Design Choices:
The list of things you can customize in a character can not be exhausted. Everything from the shape of the ears to the shape of the toenail can be modified to give your character its own personality.
Delving too deep into this abyss can be a confusing and frustrating mess that will often lead you nowhere. A good way to evade all this pain is to surf the web. Look for artists who’s work you admire, respect, and trust. Let them express their creativity within the guidelines mentioned above.
Most often, artists are very cooperative and will never consider a job done until the client is satisfied. Most things can be customized according to your market research and liking.
Some examples of characters designed by different artists can be seen below. Mind the different styles and tastes between them.
Note: we are not in any way affiliated with any of the following artists, this is just to clarify the previous idea.
Implementing the Character Effectively:
Once a character is designed and you are satisfied with it representing you, you should introduce it. You should be proud of your character. Love it, embrace it, and respect it. If you respect your character, you respect your brand, and then people will also respect your brand.
Using your character in cheap or badly planned ads is disrespecting your character. Putting your character on bad products, memes, and bad posters can disrespect your character, disrespect your brand.
To implement your character effectively it needs to be introduced to your audience clearly. It should be announced on every outlet possible to familiarize your audience to your character.
Your character should be used in every animation or illustration to create familiarity. It should be your front page. Your character animation should match the character looks. No muscular guy should by animated like a bucket of jelly with fluidity. A blubbery jiggly character shouldn’t be animated like a wall.
Naming The Character:
Short, indicative, easy to spell, and easy on the tongue. Those are rules of thumb. Long names are forgettable, irrelevant names are hard to link to your brand, hard to spell names are hard to find online, and hard to say names minimize word of mouth.
A medical supplies company named Medico: Suggested name: Dr. Med
A potato chips company named Round Tates: Suggested name: Uncle Tater
The name shouldn’t be complicated or are hard to associate with your brand.
To summarize, a simple list of what we think are good or bad character designs are mentioned below. Remember, everything we mention below is subjective.
Great Character Design
If you remember the character, then most likely it was a great character. Great characters are memorable and familiar. Studying these designs can help teach you how to make a good character design.
Kool-Aid – Pitcher Man:
Indicative, unique, simple to associate and an easy name. A very basic view into what a business character should be.
Monopoly – Uncle Pennybags:
Distinct, familiar, and stylish. Not very indicative; however, very recognizable and suitable to the product it represents.
Procter & Gamble – Mr.Clean
Very trustworthy and relatable character. Character is often paired with logo to clarify association with the product. Very recognizable and successful!
Bad Character Design:
It is hard to find a bad character for large well-known companies because if the company succeeded, most likely the character was successful too! Studying these can help you understand character design pitfalls. Nonetheless, here we go!
B&G Foods – Jolly Green Giant
A weird Character that isn’t simple, doesn’t indicate what product is associated with, and a green elf isn’t really unique.
Geico – Gecko
Again, weird, very hard to associate with the product is sells (Car insurance!) not unique, and can easily be confused for other products or services.
How We Can Help:
If you would like to create your character and start animating your brand, Reeeel Animation is a very experienced company in animation advertising! We handle everything from character creation to animation and advertising. We have been working with the Canadian government for 4 years. Our animation studio was awarded for best animation in 2021 in Qatar. If you would like to know more about us, you can visit this link.
We are excited to meet you and exceed your expectations. We provide the best to the best.
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