Brand mascots have the power to communicate the most complicated messages in the simplest way possible: how do they manage to do it? Is there a secret to brand mascots? Yes, there is and in this article, I will explore what sets the brand mascots apart from the rest.
What is a mascot?
A mascot, simply put, is a character that becomes symbolic of a brand or a company. The word has its origin in the French word “mascotte” which means a lucky charm. Mascots truly are a lucky charm for the companies they represent since they have the power to set the companies apart from the crowd.
Mascots have been seen as carriers of positive energy throughout history. Mascots have also been associated with bringer of good news and times, which is why brands choose to have mascots when devising their market strategies for generating revenues.
What makes brand mascots so powerful?
This is the part you have all been waiting for, so let’s get straight into the secrets of brand mascots.
1. Enhanced communication
You enter a shopping mall and find your little one smile looking at a mascot; you are immediately drawn towards it! Mascots are popular with old and young because of their ability to communicate easily. They can easily connect products and services to the targeted audiences. Designers and brands usually use various color combinations, outfits, expressions on mascot’s face, activities and speech bubbles to communicate with potential or existing customers. One of the powerful secrets of mascots is their ability to communicate easily.
2. Flexibility of personification
The success stories of various brands tell us that a well designed mascot can be more effective than a popular celebrity endorsing your brand. Some of the greatest brands have their mascots as their brand ambassadors. Brands and designers can create so many different and unexpected things that a celebrity would normally fail to do. Designers can add various shades of personality to the mascots depending on the company’s latest products or services.
3. Consistency in visual marking
Mascots can very easily merge into various carriers of identity of your company. Be it your website or app screens, be it your logo or interface illustrations, mascots present a consistent visual marking. Because of their flexibility, mascots are sought by the best companies. Put them in a banner or a billboard, put them in a shopping mall or in a TV ad, mascots will shine anywhere.
Just like a logo, mascots are memorable. Our brains are designed to remember images better than text, which is why companies spend sleepless nights on designing logos. Mascots, like logos, have the power to remain in public memory. Human-like qualities in a mascot make them both memorable and lovable.
5. Emotional appeal
Designers and brands know the fact that humans are emotional beings and respond to various emotions differently under specific conditions. Mascots are designed to trigger specific emotions among potential customers which would lead them to choose one brand’s products over the others. Not only do mascots evoke various emotions but also make products or services appear user friendly.
6. Potential to go viral
In the age of viral videos and memes, mascots are seen as just the right tool by brands to promote themselves to an international audience. A catchy mascot has the power to become viral in no time at all. Brands make parodies, memes, videos and newer versions of the mascot to always be in the limelight.
7. Style and beautification
Love at first sight is what truly defines mascots. More often than not, mascots become the core visual element of a brand and is seen everywhere from the website to the product. Brands use all the visual elements which make mascots beautiful and attractive. Mascots provide the opportunity to brands to convey the most delicate of messages in the most glamorous way possible!
What are the features of an effective mascot?
Mascots are generally tailor made to tell a brand’s story, but most mascots have some common features. The following are some common features of a mascot:
- Available in various sizes and resolutions
- Consistent character
So, if you decide to have a brand mascot as your brand ambassador, then including some of the above features will definitely help you in creating an attractive and memorable mascot.
How do you know your brand needs a mascot?
Now this is where it gets interesting! Yes it is true that mascots are great and have the power to make instant connections but you also need to consider if your brand at all needs a mascot. The best way to find out if your brand requires a mascot is by answering the following 3 questions:
1. Are you focusing on a young audience?
The young or the “mobile phone” generation does not have the time to focus on one thing for too long. The attention span of the young generation is getting shorter as we speak; therefore, it only makes sense to connect quickly and as effectively as possible. Mascots resonate very well with young customers.
2. Are you providing a complicated service?
Are you providing insurance, financial or IT related services? If you are, then your best bet to connect with your audience is through a mascot. Mascots have the power to simplify the most complicated theories so that even a layman would understand what the service is all about! Brands like MetLife and Geico have used mascots to promote their services.
3. Does your product have an unattractive image?
Burial services, washing floors, toilet papers and bug repellents are traditionally considered to have an unattractive product image. Using mascots to market these products and services can be the best solution. Some famous brands like Mr. Clean have successfully used mascots to market and promote their brands
If the answer is yes to one or all of the above then you require a mascot.
Consider these when creating a mascot
Mascot type: you know your brand better than anyone else; therefore, you need to decide how you want to introduce your company. You can introduce your company as an animal, an object or a real character. You can choose 6-10 adjectives that best define your brand and use them to create a mascot of your choice.
Personalize your mascot: You can take this step as an extension to the above step. The 6-10 adjectives that best describe your company may be used here to create the features of your mascot. How does your mascot move? What is it wearing? What is it talking about? The answer to these questions will help you personalize your mascot that is in sync with your company’s characteristics
Focus on your target audience: Audiences love mascots that they can identify themselves with. Mascots that share common values of a community or targeted audience are very easily accepted. If your target audience are bankers and IT professionals, the mascot needs to have an equal kind of seriousness in its character. If your target audience is children, then the mascot should be funny, colorful and playful.
Brands and designers across the globe know the secret power of brand mascots and guess what? Now you know the secret too! So the next time you design your mascot, use the information from this blog.
Bonus: 10 famous brand mascots
1. Michelin Man (Bibendum)
The official mascot of the Michelin tyre company is Michelin Man or Michelin Tyre Man he is also known as Bib or Biblobis. Introduced in an exhibition in 1894, Michelin Man is the world’s oldest trademark.
Edouard and Andre, Michelin brothers, noticed a stack of tyres that resembled a human while attending the Universal and Colonial Exposition. The image that stuck in the brothers’ mind gave birth to one of the most iconic mascots in history, the Michelin Man. Known for his drinking habits, Bib quit drinking and became friendlier from the 1920s.
2. Mr. Clean
Artist Richard Black can be credited for creating one of the most iconic brand mascots in the world. Black created a gin with the “magical powers” of the detergent. The mascot became so popular in the United States that it turned out to be the best selling detergent in the country.
The pink Duracell bunny was first launched in 1973. People received the Duracell bunny well which reflected in their sales. However, in 1989 Energizer, the company’s competitor, created a similar mascot prompting the two companies to see each other in the court.
Colonel Sanders was the founder of KFC and also the company’s image. Colonel became so popular after ad campaigns were launched that the company had it sales up the roof. Colonel has been seen in various TV shows, comics and online games ever since.
Businessman Dave Thomas decided on picking his daughter’s nickname, Wendy, as the name of his fast-food chain. He also used Wendy’s photo as the official mascot for the company.
Snoo, Reddit’s mascot, was painted by one of the founders of the company during a university lecture. Snoo is a traveler from the future and accepted Reddit’s offer to become its brand mascot.
Snoopy from Peanuts comics has been the face of NASA since the 50s. Snoopy is well loved all over the world and has appeared in products associated with NASA.
8. Pizza Hut
Pizza Hut has no official mascot but in the 70s they used a character called Pizza Pete. Pete was a friendly Italian who welcomed visitors and appeared on billboards and various souvenirs.
9. Taco Bell
The American restaurant serving authentic Mexican food, Taco Bell used a Chihuahua dog as its mascot. The mascot appeared in several ads and said, “I want some Taco Bell”. The brand was forced to stop using the animal in the 2000s because the commercial discriminated against the Mexicans.
Tux, the penguin became the mascot of Linux after the idea was put forth by the founder of the company, Linus Torvalds. The penguin, like the system, is open source and can be edited by anybody who wants to use it.
Those were some iconic mascots. Mascots have the power to create a powerful aura for the company they represent. Understanding how they work can be key to your success as an entrepreneur. Let this article serve you as a guide when you decide to go for a mascot to represent your brand.
Besides having grown up in the design Industry, Christiaan has advised some of the world’s largest companies on their branding & packaging designs. Has been the resident judge for design awards, and has spoken at numerous global design & marketing events. Christiaan founded the London office of the award-winning Cartils agency, and has founded the DesignBro.com platform.