Design Recognizable Illustrations for your Digital Brand

By / Oct 17, 2012 / Tips
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Branding design is one of the toughest fields to understand. It requires knowledge of marketing and what people like to see. When branding any website or mobile app you will want to draw attention towards your logo in some form. Illustrations are a really creative solution to build instant recognition for your company.

In this article I’d like to delve a bit deeper into the topic of branding illustrations. I’ll provide a few examples for each point and hopefully you can follow along with these ideas. Not everybody is a talented illustrator and so not everybody has the ability to create these potential brands. However you can always partner with another talented illustrator to make your ideas into a reality.

Why Use Illustrations?

People tend to be more attracted towards illustrations for a number of reasons. They are often very cartoon-like in nature with softer edges and a wide color palette. Because of this you will notice there is an almost unlimited amount of ideas you can put into design. This makes your branding appear more “fun” than with icons or symbols.

Illustrations are also quickly recognizable as objects connected to your product. A logo is just text with some creative design. But coupling text with an illustration is how you may capture interested followers over the years. People will recognize your illustrations and immediately connect these to your website – even if they see your illustrations somewhere else on the web!

FreelanceSwitch website vector character designs branding

I think a great example is FreelanceSwitch which has grown tremendously in just a few short years. Their blog is constantly updating with fresh new content and readers love their topic ideas for creativity and inspiration. The main logo illustration is a freelancer-type person who can be seen in various positions around the website.

If you can find a talented illustrator to create many different viewpoints this will improve your branding tenfold. Just a single illustration is often enough to draw in attention. But after years of the same pictures it can get stale(but not always). Having some alternate illustrations in place to switch up your layout from time-to-time is never a bad idea. These alts could also be used in advertising banners, videos, avatars, and other unique branding graphics.

Giving Some Background Ambience

I wouldn’t always classify illustrations as a useful background effect unless you are skilled at building such websites. Often background illustrations require a tremendous resolution since you will be supporting people from all different browser sizes. But just like other ideas, a powerful background illustration will captivate your audience time and time again.

Fator Criativo illustrated web design layouts

The web design agency Fator Criativo exposes a wonderful background illustration effect which can be seen in all areas of the website. As you navigate through the different links you’ll be panned up and around the layout to many different positions. I love how their effect feels very real in the sense that you’re on the Earth and rising up into space.

Some people may be annoyed by this type of layout. It can take a little while for animations to load between pages, and the scrolling effects do not entice everybody. However if you really like the design and you feel it accompanies your website then definitely keep it. Always be true to your own sense of design and don’t cave into the opinions of everybody around you. Illustrated backgrounds can be a cornerstone to recognizable website layouts.

The Models of Consistency

I have mentioned that changing up your design over time will help to keep things fresh. But it’s also true that keeping your brand in the same vein together will make your layout instantly recognizable for decades. This will work best when you are not looking to scale onto a viral market, but just hold your company accountable for years into the future.

1024 Media Website layout design company

Perhaps my favorite example of this trend is Ten24 Media. If you have ever seen their website layout before then you probably recognize the site almost instantly. You may not remember exactly what the company does, but just having some familiarity with their layout is important. This is why designers will not often change things too much when going back to redesign.

Ten24 has been online for years and their website is featured in countless inspiration showcases. Because of this so many people will see their design on a daily basis. More and more people remember their layout with the classic circus tent illustration in the header. If this company stays online for 5 or 10+ more years that classic illustration is a folding point for marketing.

Template Monster web design layout blues illustrated vector logo

Now this idea doesn’t always pertain to background illustrations. You could do just as well using a logo illustration like Template Monster. Their eCommerce system of website templates has been using the monster head for years. Professionals within the industry immediately know to recognize Template Monster for their rock-solid templates and fantastic customer service.

Design for All Products

I don’t want to assume that illustrations only work best for company websites and blogs. There are some great examples of other websites and even software companies who use illustrations for their branding. The inkFINDER App website is a really cool example of custom branding.

inkFinder iPhone App iOS UI website layout

Their website is more of a landing page selling their iPhone app. It includes some illustrations of an octopus and a shopping basket, plus some other cute icons towards the bottom. These designers know how to tie together a slew of themes into one branding which really works. There is no doubt in my mind that these illustrations have aided in the sale of their application numerous times over.

The reason is because cute illustrations draw attention almost every time. Even if people aren’t necessarily interested in your application, they will spend a couple extra seconds checking your impressive branding. Sometimes this may ironically lead to a sale. These illustrations are instantly recognizable and fit the bill perfectly for marketing potential.

Touch-Up Aesthetics

This final piece of design illustration comes from a small portfolio Allure Graphic Design. They also have a shop and online blog for articles which brings in plenty of attention.

Allure website design layout illustrations vines vectors

You will notice their website isn’t built around a single illustrated character or vector animal. Instead the layout is wrapped in some warm vines, leaves, flowers, and other nature-themed elements. All these illustrations add to the aesthetic effect of the website layout which creates a very warm and inviting brand. This is one of the easiest effects to replicate because you can focus on a number of different themes.

I can immediately imagine website illustrations based around snow, autumn, summer, oceans, cooking, practically anything! And you don’t even need illustrations to repeat if you can build the layout to scale with your design. Allure does sport a fairly complicated design, but there is a lot to be learned from their professionalism and ultimate simplicity.

Final Thoughts

To understand the power of branding you’ll need to spend time going through other websites for inspiring ideas. Check out our other articles on custom branding for more design tips in this area. Illustrations are not the only solution, but they are a creative one and difficult for copycats to mimic on their own website.

I do hope these tips can get you thinking about how custom branding can affect your product. Over time you should try to reiterate and come up with catchy new ideas worth implementing. It is always a struggle, but designers learn best through the most difficult hardships. If you have any similar ideas or suggestions on illustrated branding feel free to share with us in the discussion area below.

About the Author

Jake Rocheleau is a creative writer and UI designer. You can follow him on twitter @jakerocheleau or visit his personal website at JakeRocheleau.com.

6 Comments

  1. Anthony
    October 17, 2012

    Some really good tips Jake – I’ll be sharing this post with my wed design friends!

    Reply
    • Jake Rocheleau
      October 17, 2012

      Awesome thanks (: appreciate the feedback

      Reply
  2. Michael Meininger
    October 17, 2012

    Good article and I really like the fact that a traditional medium is being heavily introduced into a digital format.

    Reply
  3. Adrian
    October 17, 2012

    Love the Freelance Switch Illustrations. Instantly Recognisable! :)

    Reply
  4. Web Design Malaysia
    October 18, 2012

    Awesome post! ten24 media looks really intersting!

    Reply
  5. Design Turnpike
    October 18, 2012

    Nice samples as always… Leaves me some room for improvement on my site!

    Reply

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