Working with Google to make communication more fun, creative and nuanced for millions of people around the world

Since late 2015 we have been working with Google on digital sticker sets for their messaging products — an amazing opportunity for us to work with our global network of talent, not to mention putting brilliant illustration into the hands of people everywhere.

Stickers are often mistaken for emoji, but are larger, more detailed and emotive. They act as stand-alone images in digital conversations, and unlike emoji, are individual expressions created by an artist, meaning the possibilities are endless.

The way that Google approached the stickers project was different from the start. They set out to ensure that the focus is on championing the voices of individual artists. This has resulted in a collection of many unique and specific characters, rather than a few with broad appeal.

What does the world want to say? At the beginning of the project we researched how symbols and imagery have been used historically to convey information; from road signs and scout patches to stamps and family crests. This informed a set of guidelines which details what makes a sticker successful and what doesn’t.

Clarity is something we always prioritise throughout the process. If a sticker doesn’t make sense to the user or recipient within a split second, then it’s useless. So we make sure that the style of each set supports the messaging instead of getting in its way.

Character is also a key part of this process. We work with artists to define this beyond just how a sticker looks. As we are creating characters for people to talk to their loved ones through - having a clearly defined personality is very important.

International illustrators. Thanks to our international network, we work with illustrators and animators based all over the world. It is important to collaborate with artists across a broad range of styles who can translate complex subjects and emotions into immediate and accessible images. We have found that if we work with artists who can do this, then the stickers have a better chance of resonating across different cultures and demographics.

Anyways makes the connections with high-brow and low-brow illustrators who are the top of their game - both young designers and established names, which made the sticker sets feel weird, wonderful and stylistically diverse.

Art Director and Designer at Google