Buck’s Dr Seuss-inspired book for Mailchimp aims to “make your brain smile”

The studio produces a commercial project pleasantly suitable for both kids and adults, brimming with twists and turns, and the Mailchimp mascot, Freddie.

3 August 2022

It’s the email marketing platform Mailchimp’s 21st birthday, and Buck has been bought in to produce a “‘graduation gift of sorts,” as Maillchimp’s Christian Widlic puts it. Inspired by Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, Wherever The Road Takes Us is a book made for Mailchimp employees, designed to chart and celebrate the brand’s achievements over the years. It’s an unexpected strategy, but as internal documents go, the work offers a fun new approach.

Wherever The Road is strongly linked to Mailchimp’s existing brand style, established by Collins back in 2018, although with a few key changes. The principal illustration, produced by Lourenço Providência, employs a warm sketchiness, made to “appeal to both adults and kids alike, without going too juvenile or dry,” says Christian. The Buck team also didn’t want the design to feel too retro or frilly, which is where Lourenço comes in. “[Lourenço] has that skill (which I’m jealous of) to convey a concept with just a few strokes of a line,” Buck’s group creative director Thomas Schmid explains. Thus, the book’s illustrations “leave a lot of room on the page”, with a narrative often suggested through a few simple lines.

The story of Wherever The Road follows Freddie (Mailchimp’s mascot) and friends down a wandering road in Cavendish yellow (its brand colour) as they explore familiar and unexplored places; the visual of the roping road becomes a guiding theme across the book. While Buck knew that Freddie would play a part in the story, it took longer to design other characters that would feel authentic to the Mailchimp brand. The answer came from the “shape system” already in play “in the digital branding and social spaces within the brand,” says Thomas. Each character is based on a unique form, developed to be “without gender, so they could be inclusive, and the plurality of workers could see themselves in them”, illustrator Lourenço comments.


Buck: Mailchimp, Wherever The Road Takes Us (Copyright © Mailchimp, 2022)

After establishing the illustrative style, Buck looked at design layouts. Thomas says it began with asking: “How can typography play a supporting role in our story? How can layout and design emphasise and bring additional layers to the imagery on the page?” Buck’s type artist Noel Núñez-Caba took inspiration from Carl Andre’s typographic design posters to explore how type could “converse” with illustrations to tell a story. The script, full of Seuss rhythms and beats, has been set in Mailchimp’s brand typeface, Means, to prioritise readability.

The final work is printed with a textured yellow cover and foil-stamped, with a spot gloss added to the Cavendish winding roads on interior pages – “to help it pop”, says Buck creative director Shannon Jager. A limited run of 500, Wherever The Road has been “hand numbered and signed by Freddie” before being distributed to Mailchimp employees.

GalleryBuck: Mailchimp, Wherever The Road Takes Us (Copyright © Mailchimp, 2022)

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Buck: Mailchimp, Wherever The Road Takes Us (Copyright © Mailchimp, 2022)

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About the Author

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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