Atlassian is a technology company that makes tools for team collaboration. As part of a major brand overhaul, we created a more robust illustration language to elevate Atlassian's storytelling.
There are many ways to visualize teamwork. For us and many other companies, illustration has become the tool of choice. It has the flexibility to tell whimsical, aspirational stories and communicate complex technical concepts that might otherwise overwhelm an audience. Using the same visual language, illustration can convey a variety of tones and emotions. Lastly, illustration can effectively embody our brand’s personality. It’s a great way for us to further distinguish our voice. In time, it is something that will create a deeper emotional connection between us and our audience.
A core set of principles unite our illustrations stylistically and conceptually. We stress that these foundations are just a jumping off point for a designer. This freedom helps the keep our style flexible and forward-thinking.
The Illustration Spectrum
Something that makes the Atlassian illustration style a powerful tool is its flexibility. We achieved this by creating different categories of illustration that are appropriate for different uses. For the most part, we divide our library into heroes, spot heroes, and spots.
Hero illustrations are intended to tell more complex stories. This allows them to be more metaphorical and fantastical in nature. The viewer should feel a sense of teamwork, adventure, achievement, and optimism. These illustrations always a central, larger-than-life object should be surrounded by a miniature team working to build, fix, and assemble. Hero illustrations typically contain more than 3 people and their complexity should vary depending on the intended size.
Spot Hero Illustration
Spot heroes take the same team-based narrative of a hero and make it digestible at smaller sizes. While still fantastical, spot heroes focus in on a single vignette and are more practical for everyday use. We use them on our marketing website, billboards, publications and even in product.
Spot illustrations are the simplest and most literal expression of a concept. Because they are often used in product as an empty state, or in a composition with other spot illustrations, they are small and simple. That being said, they should still feel dynamic and even create a narrative. While our larger hero style illustration should never made to small, spots are too simple to be blown up beyond a certain size.
While what you see here is quite homogenous, this is a system built to shift and adapt over time. The best brands are built to bend and not break and as trends change and we add new illustrators into the mix, we are ready to bend.