Everyone needs a fun sidekick. This fun, loyal co-conspirator constantly assists the main character in princess stories, superhero comics – even your business, if you’ll let it!
As you know, brand development is important to help your company succeed. From researching your target audience to selecting an awesome name, you might think you’ve got it all covered, but what if you could take your brand one step further?
What is a Brand Mascot?
Chances are you’ve seen hundreds of brand mascots throughout the years; Tony the Tiger, Mr. Peanut, and the Kool-Aid Man are all examples of mascots! Essentially, a brand mascot embodies the brand’s personality – and is an ambassador on the brand’s behalf.
If you’re about having a brand mascot, there are three major types of mascots you should know before getting started:
- Human characters
- Animal characters
- Object characters
When it comes to deciding which type of character to create for your brand, think about your brand’s niche, the qualities of the product, and the best practices for modern brand messaging. For example, you shouldn’t use a porcupine to advertise toilet paper!
Why Are Mascots So Popular Today?
Research shows that long-term campaigns featuring a character or mascot can increase profit gain by 34.1%. Some researchers and creators speculate this is because characters have the power to move people emotionally. This is likely due to anthropomorphism, or the tendency to attribute human qualities to animals, objects, etc.
Another reason for the human response to brand mascots could be the mere-exposure effect, which basically states that people prefer things they are familiar with and have encountered in the past. This means that the more people see a brand mascot, the more they’ll like it!
With that in mind, we all know that watching the same commercials gets repetitive and annoying, even more so if the company talks about itself the entire time. Creating a mascot is a perfect way to solve this problem, as a mascot can be used across types of advertisements and seen in different commercial plots. They allow for a sense of consistency without boring their target audience and without making it seem like the company or CEO is bragging!
Why Don’t Some Mascots Work?
While developing a brand mascot could take your brand to the next level, it could also be a waste of time and investment. Sometimes, brand mascots just don’t work. But why is that?
While some researchers have discovered that humans have a tendency to prefer human-like characters, human-likeness can be taken too far. This phenomenon, called the uncanny valley, occurs when a character is in the uncomfortable zone between humanlike and cartoonish. Think Polar Express or the original Sonic the Hedgehog trailer (before Sony fixed the character design). Did those images make you uncomfortable at all? They definitely make us cringe.
Another reason is if the mascot isn’t being used enough or doesn’t meet the brand’s target audience. Remember what we said earlier about the mere exposure effect: Ronald McDonald was a sensation in the 80s and 90s – he even showed up at local libraries – but many kids don’t know who he is anymore. How can a mascot be effective if they’re not on social media or TV? A brand mascot is meant to elevate your brand and its message; be sure to use it!
It’s also much harder to implement a mascot at a B2B company because things are heavily scrutinized, so most mascots end up on the cutting room floor. Remember: to work, mascots must emotionally connect with the audience, and that’s hard to do if you have to go through multiple levels of approval!
How to Create a Good Brand Mascot
Now that you know the basics of brand mascot psychology, how do you put it into practice practically? Here are 3 tips on creating an effective brand mascot.
1. Reflect on Your Company Values.
Before diving into creating a character for your brand, think about what your audience wants to see and hear from you. What is your brand identity? How can that be translated into a mascot? You also need to think about what the purpose of the mascot is: do you intend to educate, emphasize, energize, or charge people’s emotions?
2. Assess & Gather Your Resources.
When managing a brand, you have to be aware of what is available to you and know how to use your resources effectively. Do you have a budget to hire a designer? Do you have the information needed to create your mascot? Do you have a team that will support this project? Do you know what audience you’re trying to reach?
3. Give Your Mascot Personality!
Arguably, the most memorable part of any brand’s mascot is its personality. Does your mascot talk? What makes them funny and charming? How would they behave in different scenarios? Giving a compelling and entertaining personality to your mascot creates an association of positivity with your mascot and your brand; get the creative juices flowing and give your character some spunk!
4. Plan Your Strategy.
How do you plan to use the mascot? Think of how it will sound/come across in ads, radio, social media, and live events. You can even create a stuffed character to hand out at conventions!
Coming Soon: Pixel the Dog!
Speaking of mascots, we at Matcha Design have created a new brand mascot, Pixel the Dog! Pixel has always been our mascot and office dog, but we’re making it official. Pixel is a fun-loving white and brown puppy with pointed ears, and we are so excited to introduce you to him. Keep an eye out for his debut soon!
Need help developing and designing your brand’s new mascot? Contact us today to take your brand to the next level!