The Trailhead Characters’ Origin Story with Domenique Sillett

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Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we talk to Domenique Sillett, Senior Creative Director at Team Trailhead at Salesforce, to find out about the creation process of all the Trailhead characters you know and love.

Join us as we talk about the origins of the Trailhead cast, including Astro, Codey, Einstein, Earnie, Meta, Hootie, Blaze, and more.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Domenique Sillett.

Not just another tech company.

Domenique and her team are responsible for a lot of things we know and love like the Trailblazer hoodie, the amazing cast of characters, and all the badges you earn on Trailhead. They also play a key role in organizing events like TrailheaDX.

“You go to all these different shows and they all start to look alike,” Domenique says, “they’re all kinda of techy looking and they talk about how they’re number one. But with everything we do at Salesforce, we’re trying to show you that we’re a different kind of tech company.” That kind of thinking is how we end up with waterfalls and goats inside of Moscone.

Astro begins.

“We didn’t really create these characters as much as our community did,” Domenique says, “we created them in tandem with our community in response to the activities going on around the company, the accomplishments of our Ohana and Trailblazers, the adventures that our Admins, Developers, and partner communities have, and really just life inside of team Trailhead and Salesforce.”

Astro just celebrated their fourth birthday, so to get the story you need to go back to 2014. Dominique and her team were working on Developer Week and had an assignment to make a cool t-shirt for the event to celebrate Salesforce1. “Astro wouldn’t be Astro without the help of Rochelle Truong, who was the office manager for our Developer and Admin Groups but also a secret illustrator,” Domenique says, “and I was banging my head on the table trying to come up with an idea, so I asked her to take a shot at an astronaut idea. The next day she sent me Astro.”

“We consider Astro not only just your guide to Salesforce but a representative of community and inclusion,” Domenique says, “they always leave a space for you, they’re always welcoming to you— they want to go on an adventure with you.”

From a guy in a bear suit to a colorful cast of characters.

Astro was by themselves for about a year, but now the floodgates have opened and we have a huge cast of Trailhead characters. “In 2015, we went big with Trailhead and made the Trailhead Forest for the first time,” Domenique says, “we were trying to bring the outside in to give you a new perspective.” They also decided to have someone go around in a bear suit and all of the sudden Codey was born. “There was just an aura of mischief around this bear.”

“Cloudy was created 100% by the community,” Domenique says. There were so many goat selfies at Dreamforce that they started trending on Twitter, so after the event, they got to work. “Cloudy knows the cloud inside and out, she believes that you can do anything,” she says, “no matter how you got here she’s here for you and she’s going to make it happen.”

“Earnie Badger came about in a really fun way because we were creating a badger character for breakfast at Dreamforce,” Domenique says. “We just said that you can’t have a breakfast without a badger,” which is why you see Earnie with a stack of delicious cloud cakes. Trailhead naturally had always had a running thing with badgers (and puns), so it made sense. “These conversations turn into things,” she says, and characters like Meta the moose and Blaze the wolf got their start through these random chats that turned into ideas.

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