The illustration library for Trivago is influenced by 00s animated sitcoms

Niceshit tells us how it developed the style, and the needs that feed into an illustration system for a massive brand like Trivago.

13 June 2024


In December 2023, Trivago rebranded only months after another, albeit smaller, competitor overhauled its identity, the UK-based travel company First Choice. But while Ragged Edge opted for an icon-based system for First Choice, DesignStudio went for a built-out illustrated library for Trivago – one that tried to emulate Hergé-era comics over the simple modular approach of competitors.

Niceshit, the Barcelona-based animation studio behind work for Bose and Bolt, delivered the illustration system. According to Niceshit, DesignStudio’s decision to opt for illustration, over say icons, made sense when building a brand at this scale. “Nowadays, big brands need to constantly generate content for different platforms, social networks, etc.,” says Niceshit, “and at the same time produce this content in a branded and engaging way. The illustration system we made for Trivago fitted perfectly, they can play with it as a puzzle and generate different visuals for each communication they need to put out there.”

Niceshit began the process with Hank, the character DesignStudio created for the Trivago rebrand (its first ever mascot), based around a smiling door hanger. This was the starting point on which the whole style hinged (no pun intended). From here, Niceshit quickly found its way down the retro comic avenue – a style which fits with another requirement given in the brief: hand-drawn textures.


Niceshit: Trivago (Copyright © Niceshit/Trivago)

“One of the main needs of the project was to achieve a balance between digital and physical. It had to feel like a hand-drawn stroke texture yet slightly geometric forms,” says Niceshit; this may explain some of the added width variation in the lines in comparison to the harsh slant of characters. Light direction was also given to character design: “They were very effusive in using mostly positive emotions in the characters,” says Niceshit.

“We wanted to give a fun and approachable feeling to the illustrations. This made us go for quirky body proportions that could make you smile and feel good instantly. Also there are lots of influences from animated sitcom series from the 2000s, not only in shapes but colour palettes as well.”

Niceshit made the first illustrated pack for Trivago in December, when it launched as part of the rebrand. The studio continues to add to the system to widen the range of assets Trivago has to play with.

GalleryNiceshit: Trivago (Copyright © Niceshit/ Trivago)

Niceshit: Trivago (Copyright © Niceshit/ Trivago, 2024)

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Niceshit: Trivago (Copyright © Niceshit/ Trivago)

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Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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