Published March 13, 2020
Nurturing grassroots creativity – a story about connecting culture and brand
In July 2019, we started developing a new visual storytelling style for Aginic. It has been a great journey where we have engaged our whole team to contribute to a unique drawing style that we are proud of. This is the story of Gini, the Aginic mascot!
Who is this little character?
2019 was a big year for Aginic! We turned 5, and the team had grown to 80+ team members in 5 offices across Australia. In July 2019, I sat down with cartoonist-extraordinaire Anthony Pirlo to develop a new visual storytelling illustration style for Aginic. We wondered if we could create an illustration library that complemented our brand and that everyone could use and extend. After a few iterations and tests, we landed on a flexible and fun solution. As well as serving as a utility for visual storytelling, our new illustration style would feature a curious breed of characters that would make their way into our brand and our hearts. This is the story of Gini, the Aginic mascot.
How Gini came to be
Inspired by our culture of scribbles
Everyone can draw, at least a little bit. Aginic team members communicate in a way that reflects our working style: rapid, approachable, friendly and fun! We regularly communicate ideas using quick sketches and schematic drawings. Our face-to-face catch-ups and interactive workshops are full of low-fidelity creative work, like UI wireframes drawn on whiteboards and brilliant ideas scribbled on post-it notes.
That is what we had in mind when creating our mascot. The mascot body is based on Aginic’s dots from our logo, which makes it unique and different from other visual storytelling styles. It is also simple enough to draw and customise when needed.
Inspired by who we are
Gini portrays the nature of our team:
- Social and easy-going
- Curious and ever-learning
- Gets things done fast
- Adaptive to change
- Playful and likes to have fun
Getting our crew onboard
When we started prototyping different mascot ideas, it was hard to keep our project a secret. One day while Anthony and I were sketching different versions of the mascot, a few workmates saw what we were doing and happily suggested that we should print the character on t-shirts and other company swag. That initial response was very positive and encouraging, and I was eager to see how the larger team would respond.
Aginic Spring School, our company-wide annual professional retreat, was coming up in early September. With everyone there, we launched our updated brand personality and brand values, and as visual support we introduced the Aginic mascot.
Immediately after the launch, people started asking about the Aginic mascot and about how they could start using it. That’s when we started getting really busy exploring the possible use cases, and finding more and more value in what we’d created.
Drawing workshop to inspire contributions
We ran a workshop in December 2019 to teach the team how to draw our Aginic mascots. About 35 people participated, and the session exceeded my expectations! People had fun drawing and also came up with very creative ideas about how to use our mascot for different purposes. Ideas for slide presentations, proposals, infographics and website content emerged.
The mascot drawing workshop was a great way to expand our illustration library. But that was not the best thing about the session; the best thing was how the participants were bonding through making up ideas about how the Aginic mascot can illustrate our workplace culture, often in very playful and humorous ways.
At the beginning of 2020 our design studio had refreshed our brand and updated our visual guidelines and website. What we missed was an illustrative style that would add value to our brand storytelling. The Aginic mascot and other hand-drawn illustrations filled that need. Our design team created extra visual elements and expanded our guidelines to smoothly integrate them into our existing visual brand.
For company use, our mascot illustrations were first included in internal documents and templates, such as digital presentations, training and event materials. They were later published on our website and used for social media, proposals and pitch decks. The hand-drawn illustration style can be used for so many different purposes, and it will evolve and get better as more ideas come rolling in from our team!
The serious stuff
A brand-engaged workplace culture is an awesome way to keep a strong and adaptive brand. A team needs to feel an emotional attachment to take positive action to support the company brand initiatives. As a company grows, the workplace culture evolves. There is a real risk of losing your identity and becoming another big business with disillusioned employees. At some point, a concerted effort is needed to recognise this and ensure that the team feels connected to each other, and connected to the brand.
The Aginic mascot is a small part of what we have done in the last year to create a more connected and truthful brand. It is a visible result, but a lot of unseen hard work was done in the background:
- Holding workshops with internal groups to guide the brand direction
- Uncovering our why, to help describe our diverse Aginic team
- Solidifying and expanding our core brand
- Developing a set of behaviours that our team can stand by
- Creating an onboarding workflow that is continually tested and improved
- Nurturing squad team culture
As Aginic grows, we continue to nurture our evolving workplace culture and keep it connected to our brand.
Onward boldly together
Today our Aginic mascot is still going strong, with lots of new variations and additions happening every week! We are updating our illustration library weekly to make sure we have filled our team’s needs.
In 2020, there are many initiatives that we are working on to improve our team culture, empower our brand and give goodness back to our community. Some of these are:
- Creating a social value ecosystem with innovation as a driver
- Running internal team dynamics workshops for every squad team
- Onboarding experience brainstorming sessions
- Employee experience initiatives and workshops for continuous improvement
- Sharing our knowledge by running local Meetup groups
There is always good work to be done. Let’s get going. As Jean-Luc Picard would say: Engage!
Get in touch with Anna Fransson
An ocean-obsessed Swede inspired by science fiction, travel and most of all the people I work with! Creating a fulfilling user experience with elegant designs is very rewarding, whether it’s an interactive dashboard, service experience or brand identity.Get in touch