Building Relatable Characters in Branded Stories
The right characters can imbue a narrative with pathos, humour, and above all, relatability. A dry brand story can be transformed into an emotionally affecting experience when the viewer identifies with the on-screen sprite, or is familiar with the type of individual it depicts. After all, most of us know (or know of) a Brian – your typical 21st Century millennial hipster, and the bearded face of our studio.
At Nucco Brain, characters are usually described as part of the script, either because they’re called for by the client, or because we believe that their inclusion would best serve the story. We start thinking about character designs early in the process, although we initially keep them very vague and avoid locking down each detail. At the visual development stage, once the script has been signed off, our art directors, illustrators and concept artists are tasked with fleshing out the finer details.
Great character design relies on a few key considerations:
1. Brand Guidelines.
The character must be a fit for the brand colours, tone of voice and wider visual language. Because brand-building and world-building go hand-in-hand, it’s important to consider each character within a much wider context: that of the current overall style, and that of potential future content.
2. Client Preferences:
We ask all of the tough questions right at the very start of the process to get a sense of the client’s preferences. Sometimes, our client will know exactly what they want, and their personal taste will inform the project. They may even provide animation references.
In such cases, we create a moodboard that collects these references for approval. Some might think this limits creativity, but we say not so! It simply helps us to understand what the client likes and dislikes, after which we can include our personal preferences and caveats.
3. Gut feeling:
Sometimes, you have to go with what you feel to be right. That said, it’s not a complete stab in the dark. Our illustrators study the brief, and present three distinct character design variants to the client. We ask them for their pick of choice, although in most cases clients prefer one aspect of one design, and another aspect of another. We then provide a unified concept that incorporates elements of both (or all three.)
If our client doesn’t know exactly what they want, then it’s open season. We suggest options based on what we love, and avoid showing our clients the options we don’t.
4. Mixing and Matching Influences:
The creative process can’t really be taught: everyone expresses their vision for a character in a different way. One way to appease that Artist’s Block is to take cues from existing animated characters, and extrapolate something new.
Characterisation, when done right, can be the key to content creation success. Here at Nucco Brain, we simply love to conceptualise, visualise, design and animate the characters that fill our rich worlds and stories. And now that we’ve spilled the beans, we’d love to see what you come up with!
If you’d like to read more about building relatable characters, read the rest of this post here.
Nucco Brain is a buzzing visual storytelling studio in London’s Tech City. We blend the old world and the new: the ancient tradition of storytelling and a youthful curiosity for diving headfirst into the latest technologies in content production, animation, VR and AR. We design visual experiences that capture the attention of an increasingly distracted audience. And that’s why our clients stick around.
Our clients include DeBeers, Nokia, HSBC, WaterAid, Ethereum, Facebook, GSK, Campari, EDF, Nike, Deloitte, Lycamobile, John Lewis Partnership, Adidas, Merlin Entertainment, BBC and many more. For more information about Nucco Brain, check out their website: www.nuccobrain.com