Today, I want to take you on a journey that holds a special place in my heart—the creation of the illustrated Mercedes-Benz Employee Manual, affectionately known as the “Mitarbeiterknigge”. *
Back in 2010, as an experienced illustrator, character designer and concept creator, I had the pleasure of collaborating with esteemed advertising agency Sieber & Wolf on this fascinating project. Join me as I walk you through the process of bringing this comprehensive manual to life, highlighting the importance of effective visual communication within the context of a luxury brand like Mercedes-Benz.
When Sieber & Wolf approached me with the opportunity to work on the “Mitarbeiterknigge”, I knew it was a project that demanded precision, creativity, and dedication to excellence. The manual aimed to train Mercedes-Benz staff who interacted with customers, covering topics such as maintaining contact, politeness, and proper behavior in various situations like vehicle purchase, repairs, sales, events, lunches, dinners, and business correspondence. It was crucial that the illustrations reflected Mercedes-Benz’s high standards, precision, and commitment to quality.
Working closely with Sieber & Wolf, I was provided with carefully curated text and structure for the manual. My task: design characters and find a visual language that enhanced the guidelines while injecting playfulness and appeal. Using Adobe Illustrator as my trusted companion, I meticulously crafted each illustration as vector art, ensuring accuracy and scalability.
Maintaining the delicate balance between lightheartedness and professionalism was an exhilarating challenge. The illustrations needed to engage and resonate with employees, making the guidelines memorable and relatable, while reflecting the sophistication and excellence synonymous with Mercedes-Benz. Incorporating clean lines, intricate details, and a touch of whimsy, I aimed to create visuals that captured attention while upholding the brand’s reputation.
As the project progressed, the synergy between Sieber & Wolf, Mercedes-Benz, and myself became increasingly apparent. Our shared commitment to visual excellence allowed us to navigate the project seamlessly. The positive feedback from the client reinforced our belief in the effectiveness of our collaboration. Together, we created a visually captivating manual that imparted knowledge and instilled pride and enthusiasm among Mercedes-Benz staff.
Unique challenges emerged during the project. Each illustration, crafted in Adobe Illustrator as vector art, guaranteed seamless scalability without compromising quality. To achieve a unique pen-like aesthetic, I customized the brush tool within Adobe Illustrator, producing dynamic lines that responded to the movement of my stylus on the Wacom tablet, capturing fluidity and motion.
We aimed for a loose, hand-drawn appearance while avoiding rigid linework. Striking the right balance ensured that characters and movements exuded flexibility, as though sketched with unrestrained freedom.
When it came to uniforms, equipment, and vehicles, every detail had to be flawless to maintain the brand’s commitment to perfection. We meticulously crafted each illustration, paying attention to even the smallest elements to ensure accuracy.
Additionally, a specific color palette was agreed upon between the agency and myself. This played a crucial role in maintaining brand identity and consistency throughout the manual.
The completed Mercedes-Benz Mitarbeiterknigge stands as a testament to my ability to manage large-scale projects effectively. As an independent freelance artist, I take pride in delivering exceptional results while maintaining open communication and meeting project goals. My experience working on this extraordinary project and others like it has solidified my reputation as a reliable and experienced illustrator and concept artist.
In conclusion, the creation of the Mercedes-Benz Employee Manual was an incredible journey—one that allowed me to push my creative boundaries while harmoniously working with Sieber & Wolf and Mercedes-Benz. Together, we brought guidelines and suggestions to life through effective visual communication, encapsulating the essence of the brand. This project highlights the importance of engaging illustrations in training materials, particularly within the luxury brand context, and serves as an example of my passion for creating visual excellence.
Since then, I have enjoyed collaborating with the esteemed Sieber & Wolf agency on multiple occasions, most notably on a cardboard cutout sheet of the Mercedes Petronas Formula 1 racing car for the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany. This amazing project captured the intricate details of the Formula 1 car, providing interactive and engaging fun for children while showcasing the rich history and innovation of the Mercedes-Benz brand.
Thank you for joining me on this artistic expedition. Stay tuned for more captivating projects and creative endeavors!
Ian David Marsden
* What is a “Knigge” you might ask? Baron Adolph Freiherr von Knigge, a notable figure in 18th-century Germany, was a writer and social philosopher known for his influential book on manners and social behavior. His work, titled “Über den Umgang mit Menschen” (translated as “On Human Relations” or “On Dealing with People”), was a groundbreaking guide to etiquette and interpersonal relationships). Over time, Baron von Knigge’s book, became widely recognized simply as the “Knigge.”
Illustration, Illustrator, Concept artist, Character Design, Freelance artist, Employee manual, Mercedes-Benz, Visual communication, Luxury brand, Creative training materials, Lehrmittel, Mercedes, Daimler Benz, Cartoon, Cartoonist, Comic Art, Comic Strips, Business Illustration, Business Comics, Marsden, vector art