HotelsCombined, one of the world’s largest hotel price comparison companies, recently underwent a brand refresh. They needed a universal identity that conveyed trust and familiarity. Supervixen were approached to handle the creation of Max, a project handled by Interbrand Australia.
We caught up with Daniel Bavell and Morten Rowley at Supervixen who told us a little about the creation of Max.
Who is Max and how did he come about?
Max is a mascot for HotelsCombined. Someone that was created as part of a larger re-brand that was created for our friends over at Interbrand.
He represents himself as a Founding member of HotelsCombined. A very tech savvy, efficient worker who is very busy and may come across as a little serious at times. He is in fact, your typical IT guy. A solutions guy you ask for help. He is cute, but reluctantly cute. To him, he is all business.
Interbrand contacted Supervixen and asked if we could help develop the Max character as all they had at the time was a stand-in character. Character design is something we take very seriously, we have created a few characters that have become massive, such as the Wrigley’s characters. People still send us photos of fan art and DIY merch that they make of those fellas.
That was a fairly lengthy process, approx. 42 bear designs in total, i think. You can see them on our site. Through out that process, we defined not just how Max looked, but how he would act, sound, move and so on. We design how many teeth he shows when he smiles, etc… so it was a 'complete character' for whoever or whatever the future holds.
This kind of detail gave us the nickname at HotelsCombined as ‘Max’s Parents’ .. a little weird, but very complimentary. From that, we were asked if we want to continue our creative across the TV and Digital Content side of things. So we jumped at it. Writing scripts as well as strategy in where we can see Max placed amongst the competition followed. The rest is history.
How did you put the brand into the bear? What were your considerations in designing Max to reflect HotelsCombined's new brand identity?
There was a graphic design asset that Interbrand used through out the re-brand. It was a dividing line that had an upside-down triangle in it. This exists as a way of dividing their website and stationary design into various segments to help the visual communication of the brand. This line became Max’s eyebrow line and the upside-down triangle became Max’s nose. It was an important feature to uphold and you will also see that on all the versions on our website.
This asset was something that also had to translate into the logo’s icon (which is also the App’s icon). Whatever Max was to look like, his head had to translate into a flat 2D icon.
Were there considerations in the design process when making Max's character cross-cultural?
Yeah, instantly we were aware that Max had to transcend the cultural spectrum. He has a lot of coverage. This had a large impact. Larger than we initially planned. Our earlier scripts we very dialogue heavy. That had to change once we had to create an Ad that played in 12 different countries. And i believe now, Max appears across 41 different languages. So many versions.
Any challenges in his conception? Did any challenges arise once Max transitioned into a 3D space?
Creating a character that needs to translate into the 3D world is always a little tricky. If your character has the workings of a traditional bi-ped character like us (2 arms, 2 legs, etc) and is expected to run, dance, move, groove, build a hammock, volunteer its spare time at a soup kitchen, play the playstation, go to the gym because its been playing the playstation too long or fight off adoring fans, these things need to be in mind at the start of the entire process. Otherwise you will be in a painful place should you be the 3D animator who has to bring this character to life.
We knew the kinds of scenarios we wanted Max to get into. We have many script ideas in mind for him. So we needed a design and a 3D rig that can handle all the ideas we have in store for him. Poor bugger.
What are you working on at the moment, any teasers?
We always have other things on, and we always tease. Watch this space *wink wink
Check out the Supervixen's feature article on Max here