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Using Anime Style for Branding

Using Anime Style for Branding

There are many places you could find inspiration for your next design or branding project. With the rising competition these days, you might even need to always look for fresh ideas for your designs to stand out from the rest.  There have been several inspirations that have gained massive popularity recently. One of them is Anime Style.

Before we understand what anime style is, let’s understand what Anime itself it. The word Anime is derived from the word Animation. The origins of Anime are from Japan. They have been using Anime for storytelling and creating compelling fictional stories since the 1940s. Gradually, this style spread out to the outside world during the 90’s, and it has been gaining worldwide popularity ever since.

Anime is known for its appeal to scale and drama. There are so many popular Anime that people know about across the globe. One great example of this would be the Naruto series. Many times a single battle sequence transcends across few episodes. Each character has great development which makes for compelling storytelling.  If you talk about Dragon Ball as well, the potential of reaching a new level of energy and winning against the impossible odds keeps the audience hook.

If we talk about Anime’s involvement in designing, it isn’t as recent or unheard of as you’d think.  Osamu Tezuka was the pioneer of Anime who started the process during the 1940s. He was inspired by the American style of Animation and also Walt Disney. He came to be known as Walt Disney of Japan.  Anime has gone through several periods of transition where you can see how it has developed over the years.

Anime is not just a trend. The current millennial has grown with Anime through their childhood and hold important value for them.  It is an excellent style tap in, as it’s on its peak of gaining popularity. There is much potential.

Let’s understand how we can Anime Style for Branding our products and services:

Anime Style in Logos:

You need not have a product that is closely associated with Anime or cartoons to make use of Anime style in your logos. There are many ways anime style can be used in logo making of any brand if the right approach is taken. Let’s break it down further:

1. Anime Lettering and Typography:

Using Anime Style for Branding- Typography example

A person can almost know if they’ll like an anime show before watching it. This is generally because the show’s title uses typography that attracts you.  The elements are designed in a way that it appeals to a particular age group. It works on the psychological preferences of that age group.  The logos for this show can be used for reminding you of how Japanese writing looks like or giving an image of geometric machines as well.  Such anime typography-based logos generally portray the tone and style of the show they represent.

This is the reason. Anime lettering can be great for any business that wants to emphasize on their brand name. If you have a brand that has geometrically inclined initials or with an attractive repetition, you can opt for a monogram logo. Monogram logos also work for brands with lengthy names.

There are many sub-genres of Anime. It is guaranteed that either one or the other sub-genres would work for your company even if your company has no relation to Anime.  For instance, geometric anime-style suits any technology company.

2. Anime characters and using them as mascots:

Using Anime Style for Branding- Using Anime Characters as Mascot- Jeep

This is a method of using Anime style, which should have a significant and visible impact on branding for any company. Generally, each Anime has one or two lead characters that are the most charismatic and liked. Using such characters as a mascot for the company would surely attract many potential customers.

It is very similar to how brands use celebrities for advertising or branding their products. People get drawn seeing their favourite celebrity and associate the brand with their idol and hence hold the band in high regard. Same is with Anime characters. When people see their favorite Anime character, they associate the brand with having all values of that character in their business. Hence they convert much easier.  It appeals to their emotions.

Since the anime characters have such distinctive and outstanding features, it becomes easier for them to stand out from the crowd. They usually have unique hairstyles that inspire wrestlers and cos players to adopt similar styles. Moreover, angelic heroes are generally seen as a sense of hope and confidence. Hence these Anime characters have many characteristics that a company can take benefit of, by using them as their mascot.

3. Using Anime for logomarks and icons:

Using Anime Style for Branding- Using Anime as Logos

You’d see many logomarks whenever you watch any anime. There is always more than one symbolic logomark that the characters of anime wear. It symbolizes that character, almost giving it an identity. These logos gain mass popularity as they’re readily available and when people wear the logomark, they feel like they’re involved in their favourite Anime or get to show that they support and watch that Anime.

For DragonBall, Goku has a distinctive orange uniform which has an emblem on the T-shirt that reads Kame. Kame translates to turtle, and it has a significant role in the anime series and comics. Similarly, in Naruto, there are many such symbolic logomarks. There are sealing jutsus, and band symbols of each village representing different landmarks.

Such logos appeal to both the rational and the emotional side of a potential customer, and it makes it all the more appealing for them to buy or use the services/products you have. If you a great job at incorporating their anime style in your brand they’d also recall your brand for a longer time, and tell their friends about you, which would lead to word-of-mouth promotion.

If you believe you can narrow your business down or sum it up in a symbol, there is nothing like it. Anime style uses symbols all the time. The Pokeball is considered a symbol for Pokemon; a bit-beast is a symbol for Beyblade. Similarly, a dragon ball is a symbol for dragon ball series. Japan believes a symbol has tremendous power and value. Hence if you can fix your entire ethos down to a symbol, you could gain a lot out of it.

However, you need to be careful as Anime is a particular genre. You can’t use a Pokeball design and sell Dragonball merchandise. It is very important to be thorough with your knowledge about Anime before attempting to add it to your branding mix. Anime logomarks, if you get it right, won’t just earn you potential customers, but loyal fans.

Brand Storytelling through Anime:

Anime is distinctively known for its storytelling abilities. The makers of Anime generally have a great way of narration and character development which makes for great stories that appeal to the masses. The potential of creating a connection with the audience through storytelling is way more than any other branding aspect.

When we talk about brand storytelling, it refers to how a brand gains momentum in the market with a good reason. Whenever a brand has a story that it can share with the audience, it always helps the potential customers to relate better to the brand. It gives the brand a soul since it has seen its struggle and worked its way through hardships.  The audience feels more involved in the process.  Once you win a potential customer over a compelling story, he/she is most likely to stay loyal to your brand despite getting some additional features in a competitor’s product later on.

However, having a compelling story isn’t enough. Most of the times, not all brands even have stories that are heroic or troublesome. They could have had a seamless transition into starting their own business.  A good story without a good storyteller is as likely to fail as a bad story with a lousy storyteller.  This is why Anime style should be studied carefully and used for the brand’s storytelling efforts.

1. Essential elements of Anime storytelling:

Brand Story- Flowchart showing important factors of brand story

Any storytelling has certain elements that need to be focused on. These elements are the setting, characters, a rising action sequence, conflict and climax. Such elements help the audience to flow with your story quickly and also easily remember it.  The anime storytelling always has an outward approach, where it allows the viewer to take the front seat on the moral compass and relate to the character as if they were making those tough decisions. It narrates in a way that the viewer believes themselves to be in the character’s shoe. This creates a deeper engagement. Hence for storytelling, your approach as a brand should be customer-driven. Talk about them and not just you.  The approach you need to take is that your brand is a guide to solve the problems of a customer.

2. Realizing your true purpose:

Parts of storytelling- Identifying your purpose

Each anime show has an underlying thought that it follows throughout. There are many emotions depicted throughout the show. However, it always follows one base principle that the show is centered around. For instance, Naruto is an anime that shows the strong character of the protagonist to become Hokage (leader of his village). It shows determination.  Similar to your brand also has an essence that it stands for. It cannot be making money or your product. It has to be something in your approach to work. Identifying this would help you set your brand apart from the competition.

3. Identifying your true value:

Parts of storytelling- Identifying your values

Understanding the true value of your brand is essential. Continuing the same example from the previous point, we understand that the main character is committed to becoming Hokage. For this, his values are never giving up on his word that is reinforced in the show time and again.  Values are your journey to your goals; the how-to your what. For instance, as a company, your goal can be reaching the top 10 ranks of your niche in your locality in the next year. This is your purpose.

How you plan to achieve it would set your values. Generally, when companies talk about values, they toss terms like integrity, innovation and more because they sound nice. Not because the company truly holds such value central to their business practices.

A good instance of this can be, there are two ways of reaching the top 10 ranks as we discussed before. Your approach could be the hardworking organic method of reaching there based on true efforts and nothing else, or you could also be okay with bending some rules and changing the game a bit to favour faster growth. In the second case, your value is winning and not integrity. This is nothing to hide. Instead, you should embrace it. Whatever is the underlying value you have as a brand, you should embrace it as it helps you connect to your target audience much better.

These were the ways you can use Anime Style for branding your brand. There is a lot of underlying teachings that Anime has to offer to the branding world. Invest some time learning about Anime and its origin, also ensure you understand its context and why it appeals to the youth and adults alike. Use these lessons for branding your products and services in a new and better way.

Written by Harsh Raval

Harsh Raval is a skilled graphic designer, digital marketing consultant, web developer and content creator. With more than 10 years of experience in content creation, Harsh is dedicated to contributing engaging and thorough graphic and web design articles to Line25.

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