Google Stickers

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.
Humanised digital communication. As we increasingly rely on technology to connect with each other there is a real need to humanise digital conversations. By visualising the nuances of body language, facial expression, humour, gesture and personality, stickers allow people to say something more engaging than with just words alone.
A sticker for every moment. Over the last two years, we have commissioned and art directed over 2,500 stickers. For each set, we work with Google to define the concept and messaging ideas for each, and then assign them to artists in a way that lets their personalities come to life.
Each set has been tailored for a specific audience or use case, ranging from everyday topics such as dating and sports, to character based concepts such as ‘troublemaker’, and for different audiences around the world such as Latin American users.
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.
Partner sets. We have also extended our knowledge to commercial partners, helping them become part of the conversation. We worked with the NBA to create sticker sets to help users celebrate two key moments in the basketball calendar - the start of the play-offs, and the 2016/17 Finals.
The future of conversation. Through partnering with Google and our collaborators, we have now created over 1,000 stickers featuring hundreds of messaging ideas, dozens of characters, and among them, myriad ways to say ‘I love you’. These can be found for free on Google Allo, Gboard, and Android Messages.
"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