A hex color breakdown of our official mascot, Sveny, the cutest Viking.

Designing Smiles

When I’m not busy being an annoying little brother (it’s hard work!), I like to design stuff. I believe the value of good design and a solid user experience comes from an attention to detail and an acknowledgment that creative work has the power to inspire and leave a lasting impression on people. The word thoughtful springs to mind. If you can design something that makes you and others smile, tells a cool story, AND makes sense in the context it’s being presented in, you can accomplish something special. It’s a really humbling experience because the heart of this process is about putting yourself into the shoes of someone viewing your design, and in this example visiting your site. You ask yourself a couple of important questions:

What expectation are you setting for visitors?

What impression do you want to leave on visitors?

When my brother and I started working on our game discovery site Epicplays, we knew that meant having the exciting task of creating branding from scratch and establishing a visual language (more on that in a later article!). Now not every site or tech startup has or needs a mascot, but I think there’s something really special about them when it’s done right.

Official mascot for thedrop.club, an awesome electronic music discovery site

When I first saw thedrop.club’s mascot, it made me instantly smile. This totally rad green dude’s presence is memorable, gives the site personality, works with an interesting palette of colors, is relevant to the name of the site and the purpose of the site (discovering emergent electronic music). This approach to branding, as successfully demonstrated by countless sites (Mailchimp, reddit, etc.), is both inspiring and powerful. This is what motivated me to attempt to craft a mascot. And for a site dedicated to discovering fun in the form of games to play, it just made so much sense to at least give it a shot.

So I started, of course, with our name. I don’t know about you, but when I think of the word “epic”, I think about something AWESOME. Something legendary, be it real or fictional. Certain words immediately popped into my head — Norse mythology, Vikings, Valhalla, thunder and lightning. My base idea was to create a Viking character. For the likeness, I based it off of one of my good friends Pete who has an incredibly distinct look with long red/orange hair and full beard. I wanted to translate that unique look into vector Viking form. I also wanted to make sure the mascot was cute and super happy, because discovering and playing an awesome game you never knew about is an incredibly exciting moment. The goal, thus, was to establish a clear expectation about what the site was about and what we wanted you to feel after using the site. I took to Illustrator to draw up the outline of the mascot. Pen tool FTW.

When I was done with the vector outline, I proceeded to fill in the sections with a nice mix of mellow and loud color choices for variety (these colors would end up being the basis of the brand style guide). I then removed the stroke width on the entire vector outline, leaving just blocks of color, to reduce the visual weight and complexity of the image. My brother and I picked his name, Sveny, together. Sven is a familiar Nordic name and is Old Norse for young warrior. We then tacked on a -y to soften the name up a bit and make it our own.

The final Illustrator design for Sveny!

My brother and I grew up playing games together, it’s an important part of who we are and what we are about and what we want our passion project to be about. To us, Epicplays is about discovering fun, getting excited, not taking ourselves too seriously, and honestly just trying to make people smile. We hope it leaves a positive impression on people. And the best part about creating Sveny? By keeping the overall design aesthetic, but playing with color, hair style, and more, it’s opened up a whole new world of potential characters and stories to begin to explore! What will they be used for? Why is that guy’s hair so green? Who knows! All I know is I’m already having way too much fun with this.

I hope you enjoyed this brief look into the story and design thinking behind our mascot, Sveny. Let us know what you think of Sveny by shooting an email to hello@epicplays.com.

Happy gaming! :)

My brother and I created Epicplays to help people discover and keep track of games they want to play across every platform, genre, and taste preference. Stay awesome and have a nice day. ❤

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