**Creating a Cohesive Illustration Library: A Journey at Slack**
**Challenges of a Growing Brand**
When Slack launched its new website in 2017, the excitement among brand designers was palpable. The new brand fonts and the library of illustrations promised creative freedom. However, this freedom quickly became a source of frustration as the illustrations were used without proper context, leading to visual inconsistencies. Designers were overwhelmed with addressing these issues, and the intended meaning of the library was lost.
Realizing the need for change, the Slack team made it a priority to establish a new illustration library. The library needed to be easy to maintain and expand, while striking a balance between being distinctive and accessible for team members. They developed four principles to guide their design decisions: boldness, elevation, dimensionality, and unexpectedness.
**Two Styles, One Goal**
To cater to different needs, Slack decided to create two styles of illustrations: objects and people. Object illustrations were more literal and technical, explaining product features. People illustrations worked better for marketing and brand campaigns, bringing a touch of humanity to external communication materials.
**Refining the Styles**
While the object style was well-received, the people style needed refinement. Feedback suggested that the personas looked ambiguous. As a result, the illustrations underwent a makeover to add facial and clothing details, aiming to make them more distinctive.
**Adapting to a Changing World**
In March 2019, the makeover was completed just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. With work life becoming dramatically different, Slack needed illustrations that reflected the changes and showcased collaboration and remote teamwork. Recognizing the need for expertise, the team enlisted the help of illustrator Giulia Giovannini, known for her bold and playful style.
**Teaming Up for Success**
Working collaboratively across time zones, the small team focused on expanding Slack’s people illustration library. They aimed for modularity, scalability, and inclusivity in the construction of the library. The project was divided into phases, gradually adding illustrations depicting collaboration and remote work, people working in different industries, basic poses, facial expressions, and regional-based personas.
**The Library in Action**
After nearly a year of dedicated work, the illustration library became a vital tool for various departments at Slack. Designers could iterate more quickly with illustrations, enhancing their mockups. Marketing could tell better stories, thanks to a comprehensive library of region-specific assets. The library also ensured visual consistency across the brand’s touchpoints.
Having learned the importance of a robust design library, Slack continues to update and evolve its illustration library. They have implemented workflows to gather feedback and requests for new illustrations from internal teams, ensuring the library reflects the brand and its customers accurately. As the world changes, so will the library, adapting to the evolving needs and demands of Slack and its users.
[**Illustration Digest: A Quarterly Update**]
Viet Huynh is a brand designer at Slack, passionate about graphic design.
(Note: The text has been substantially rewritten to avoid plagiarism, improve clarity, and adhere to the specified guidelines.)