Developing TrustRadius's Illustration Style

In the summer of 2018, we partnered with TrustRadius and their marketing team to develop their brand's illustration style and create over 20 illustrations for three of their marketing sites. One of the most incredible aspects of the project was the fact we completed both the style discovery and illustrations in less than a month's time. Below you can learn more about TrustRadius and how we worked together on this incredible illustration sprint and best of all see some of the in-progress and finished pieces we created together.


About the Client

TrustRadius is the most trusted review platform for business technology. We help buyers make confident decisions with in-depth reviews and ratings from real users. We also help vendors engage and convert buyers by putting their customer’s voice to work, authentically and at scale. Headquartered in Austin, TX, TrustRadius was founded by successful entrepreneurs and is backed by Mayfield and LiveOak Venture Partners.

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The Process of Discovery

At the start of our project together, I had just begun offering a new service to my clients that I called Illustration Style Discovery—an offering to clients in which I help develop their illustration style from scratch through a process of discovery, mood boards and workshops working directly with the client. With TrustRadius, we began the process by building a collection of illustration styles that we believed fit their current branding. This is usually done by enlisting the help of the client to share examples of illustrations/styles that resinated with them and their design team—to help gain insights and buy in. These examples are then used as a jumping off point in which we created a few mood boards with options for us to look through and review.

Once we had samples from the marketing & design team, we then began building a collection of illustration styles—narrowing them down to three specific styles—that we believed would work well with the client's brand. After completeing the mood boards with the three styles, we then shared them with the client to garner any and all feedback on which ones resinated with them or didn't, what they liked about one style over another, etc.

At the end of the first part of the Illustration Style Discovery process, we had narrowed in on two style options, it was time to test these styles on a few illustrations that we knew the client would need for their website—Its key that when we are creating examples in during this process that they are illustrations that can be used by the client at the end of the project to save us time and the client money.

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Crafting Their Story

Upon narrowing down the style options down to two, we began working on creating the compositions for the example illustrations. For TrustRadius, we new that we needed to create example illustrations for headers, spot illustrations and icon illustrations.

We began this process first by determining the compositions for the examples and the other illustrations we'd have to tackle after the Illustration Style Discovery was finished. During this stage, we didn't focus on any specifics in regards to style but instead focused on what would make up the composition. We first started with quick rough sketches on stickie notes—these were created live during calls directly with the client to help us make sure we were on the right track, without having to wait for them to review—and then followed by more detailed sketches done on the iPad Pro using Adobe Photoshop Sketch.

Upon finishing the sketches and having the client sign-off on everything we began working on creating the first examples of the new illustration style for TrustRadius. Instead of focusing first on the header illustration or any other the others, we decided first to focus on an element we'd use throughout all of the illustrations—people. We worked to figure out the best ways of crafting the characters that would be present throughout the illustrations, trying out a number of combinations based on the mood boards we created during discovery. Once we had the style for people in place we began working on the header illustration—which would end up being the catalyst for all of the other examples illustrations.

Once the example illustrations were all completed and approved, we jumped directly into production on creating the illustrations for each of their new landing pages. During the course of the sprint, we ended up creating over 50+ variations of illustrations—from alterations and revisions. Not only was it a lot of work but it was also a lot of fun as well.

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Our Solution

When the everything was finished, we as a team, myself and their marketing team, were able to not only develop the TrustRadius illustration style, but we were able to create all of the illustrations needed for the three landing pages in time for their new site to be launched—across three landing pages. From developing the concept of each illustration, to sketching them out, refining them, vectorizing and colorizing we created roughly 20 illustrations in the span of two and a half weeks.

This project was a major milestone for a few different reasons. The first, it allowed us to hone and develop a new service more effectly that we now offer to the majority of our clients, the Illustration Style Discovery—which I'm happy to say has become pretty popular. Second, it also allowed us to develop a strong partnership with the team we worked with on the project. Finally, third, it taught me a lot about communication and the best practices of doing so with a client, especially on so short of a deadline.