A book filled with pictures and examples of mainly american characters. And a little bit of text on character design.
Arguments for why a character survives:
‘characters have the ability to evoke emotional resposes, to stick in your memories in a way that no abstract logo can’ p.7
I am asking myself if that counts for all characters (propably not) and what distinguish a good character?
‘They instill confidence in products and evoke in the mind of the consumer those all-important thoughts of trust, integrity and honesty. Faith in corporations may be shaky, but our belief in these symbols persists’
But how do they do that? Just by being a character?
‘Objects given human qualities … are referred to as anthropomorphic forms. Their human-like qualities make them more accessible, or appealing to the viewer’
I am currently researching on why a brand (and/or a product? – can it be both – my collegue is asking me that question, so I am thinking about that distinction) should have a character designed for them. When is it relevant? What considerations comes before going into the design fase?
In that regard Meet mr. Product is an overview of a long list of examples of characters in american advertising the last 100 years (but centered around the marketing boom in the 1960’s – called the golden age of ad-characters) and they are grouped in categories: food, drinks, kid’s stuff, dining, technology, home, automotive + personal & leisure.
So the book gives an overview of characters that stayed with us (and the ones that was forgotten or abandoned) – and the reason for them to be able to stand the test of time is interesting.
Give a product a face, arms, and legs, and suddenly it becomes more appealing and emotionally accessible – more human. p. 14
At the same time I am also looking at how characters are designed?
And sometimes (but seldom) it can seem a bit without cohence:
Like for example John Deere and the reason for their deer logo: ‘obviously, is a simple play on the inventor’s name’ – so yes that is one approach: I am called Deere lets put a deer in our logo allthough our products have very little to do with deer.
I just read a funny (but I guess not a very scientific) article (The Inner Doughboy – Ruth Shalit) about the code of conduct many famous brand mascots (or spokes-characters) have. There are strickt rules to how for example some of the classic american mascots like Ronald McDonald, Green Giant, Mr Peanut and Doughboy (representing the grain brand Pillbury that are selling baking products) can behave. They are restricted by long guidelines about their look, behavior and gestures.
And asked about how their personalty they are always described as being nice and friendly.
So Doughboy is only portraied as a helper a teacher or a friend. He is poppin’ fresh.
Green Giant can never come out of his green valley.
Ronald McDonald is kid’s fun magical friend.
Mr Peanut is single. He is a cosmopolitan guy. He is too busy to be settling down.
But isn’t that also a little boring, maybe even cheasy. What about the statement that: ‘The best characters are the ones who are flawed or internally conflicted’
When I ask myself what is typical french or parisian seen from a visual point of view – my background in art history supplies me with images and different genres of architectural styles that pops up in my head.
For me classic parisian style is a collage of stuff like:
Sofisticated elegance might be words that sums it up.
One of the elegant places in Paris is the department store Printemps. which among other things is famous for its art nouveau ornaments and glass domed ceiling in the centre of the building. Printemps turned 150 years in March and to celebrate that occation a mascot was designed.
Meet Rose. She is designed by the japanese 3D character designer Hiroshi Yoshii
Yoshii has a big family of characters in his portfolio and his style is a good example of the impact from japanese manga and kawaii style in charcter design.
What is interesting in relation to my project is that Rose is as an example of the influence of japanese visual culture in a western context for example in the use of characters in branding.
Anthropomorphism: the propensity to attribute human characteristics to objects. Seeing the human in non-human forms.
Anthropomorphism is a concept important at the very core of my project. Because why should we care about adding a character to our brand if it din’t have an impact on us and on our relation to the brand and the visual identity.
So why are we using brand mascots and characters: ’The primary benefit of spokes character advertising is thought to be the emotional connection that the character builds between the brand and the consumer’
Its all about emotions.
Human attributes that embody objects and animals: intelligence, belief, desire, intension, goals, plans, psychological states, powers and will
Lucas Zanotto for example puts two disposable plates (where he paints black circles on) on objects that he encounters in nature – and suddenly the object is alive and relates to us.
Apis er en egyptisk gud og et helligt dyr, hvor – ifølge Den store danske – guden Ptahs sjæl kunne tage ophold. Apis blev repræsenteret af en levende tyr, der var udvalgt ud fra flere kendetegn i pelsen. Præsterne mentes ud fra tyrens gang i templet at kunne forudsige fremtiden.
Novo Nordisk har haft apis-tyren i deres logo siden 1926 og det bygger på en tradition i medicinal branchen for at identificere sig med dyr.
Og som i mange andre firmaer der har eksisteret igennem årtider er det sjovt at se hvordan logoet følger tidens trend og ofte forenkles og forfines undervejs. Noter fx hvordan sol skiven på tyrens hoved er blevet drejet så den er nemmere at se. Og hvordan linjer, farve og skriftype er opdateret.
En karakter er overordnet set en figur – i en fortælling – en bog, en film, en animation. Men en karakter kan også være en figur i fortællingen om en brand. Og et af de klassiske eksempler er Michelin manden.
Mit projekt udspringer af at jeg som underviser i design i forbindelse med visuel identitet har snakket med de studerende om det at tilføje en karakter til sit brand – en brand mascot, hvordan de ser ud, hvordan designer man dem og hvorfor man gør det. Men da jeg researchede fandt jeg ikke noget materiale jeg kunne uddele til de studerende i den forbindelse. Og det kunne jeg derfor godt selv tænke mig at skabe.
Her i opstartsfasen leder jeg efter nogen, der allerede har beskæftiget sig med emnet og udgivet ting der kan inspirere og danne baggrund for mine egne undersøgelser.
Og jeg kigger herunder på eksempler. Senest Milka koen