Why You Should Create A Brand Mascot For Your Business

Did you know that brands that use mascots are 50% more effective at getting an emotional response from their customers? According to Adweek, brand mascots have even more perks too. They can contribute to increased market share, as well as customer and profit gains. 

It turns out the repeated use of a memorable character helps you build rapport with customers. And increase brand recognition.

Your business could be pretty much anything and having a brand mascot would still be a fantastic addition to your branding. In this blog, we’ll go through why that is and how you can get started. Throughout the blog, we’ll also give you examples of mascots that are well known, so that you get some inspiration.

To start with, what is a brand mascot? 

Traditionally, mascots have been considered something that brings a business good luck. Sports teams in particular are pretty vocal about this. But what are they? Essentially, a brand mascot is a humanized character that represents, and reinforces, a brand’s personality in its marketing.  

Some of the most common mascots are derived from objects, animals, people, and even fictional characters or creatures. These talismans can have a big range of applications such as being used in logos, icons, websites, souvenirs, and even in mobile apps. They can amplify your advertising and offer you new brand engagement and awareness opportunities.

Source: Adweek

How to decide whether you need a brand mascot

Before jumping right into deciding the kind of mascot that you should pick, let’s first consider whether you need one. Below are a few of the common reasons why a brand may choose to create a brand mascot. 

Is your focus on a young audience? 

If your market includes a younger audience, having a brand mascot can help you connect with them. This is especially true as they may not be as intrigued by other elements of conventional branding. But a fun engaging brand mascot? That will go a long way. Brands like Nesquik, Haribo and Cheetos, all have mascots for this reason.

Do you offer a service that is complex? 

If you have a brand that deals with services that can be thought of as complex, like IT, finance, or insurance, having a friendly brand mascot might make your brand more relatable. And remember, friendly doesn’t mean cartoonish or bright and gaudy. A brand mascot can be whatever you want them to be.

Are you solving an unattractive problem?

Don’t get us wrong, but some services and products may not be as attractive as others. For example, if your product or service focuses on household cleaning. Rather than focus on images of the problem you’re solving (e.g. dirty floors, or dishes), you can use a brand mascot to highlight the solution.  

What are the types of brand mascots that you can choose from?

You have a lot of options when it comes to choosing a brand mascot. And your choice will depend on what you are looking to represent to your audience and how you want to include your brand mascot in your marketing and branding strategies. Here are some of the most popular types of mascots for you to consider:

Human characters 

This is pretty much the most widely used mascot category. A human brand mascot can be a real person or a fictional character. 

  • Human characters are great if you are looking to promote yourself. This could be the case for a freelancer or even a public speaker. KFC and Captain Morgan are well-known examples of brand mascots based on real people.
  • Superheroes are a great fit if you are looking to highlight a powerful feature of your product or service. But you have to make sure that the superpower of your hero is clear and can be easily communicated to your audience. 
  • Personifying an object is another option to consider. If you have a product that has a specific shape then this category can be really effective. You can either transform the object into the mascot and personify it or you could use the product as a building block and create a living creature out of it like the Michelin Man.
Animal characters 

Animals are always versatile and quite fun and playful. But when it comes to their effectiveness as brand mascots, the psychology of anthropomorphism comes into play. People tend to attribute human traits to plants, animals and sometimes even nonliving things. We do this in order to understand the world around us. 

And that is why this kind of mascot appeals to people. It gives us happiness to see animals behaving and moving around like people. Strange and interesting isn’t it? 

  • Some brands like Jaguar use the animal archetype as their mascot. They use the animal itself to speak about the qualities of the product in a subtle but powerful way. For example, a jaguar is an animal with power, speed, and grace. When customers see the mascot, they automatically relate the car with these qualities.
  • In the case of some brands, the product that they offer will have a direct relationship to the animal that they choose as the mascot. For example, the laughing cow is often associated with many products that are made of cow’s milk like cheese. 
  • The third and final category of animal character mascots are more abstract and based on creativity alone. This means that there isn’t an obvious connection, and you’ll have to build on through your branding and marketing efforts.  A good example of this would be the Geico Gecko. The company noticed that people often misspelled their company name as gecko and that led them to make the gecko their brand mascot.
Objects as characters 

The third category of mascots you can choose from would be objects that have been made to look like characters. 

  • In the first option you can use the object simply to build the body of the character, like in the case of the Michelin Man. 
  • In the second option you can bring the object to life like in the case of M&M’s Spokescandies. 

With this type of mascot, you combine the traits of both the object and the character that you want to create. This gives you a lot of creative independence and all you need to do is put the mascot in the right place with good comical timing to get your audience engaged in the branding.

Using milestones as mascots 

You probably have noticed Luxo Jr., the lamp that comes in at the end of any Pixar movie. But you may not have known why an object (lamp) that seems to have nothing to do with filmmaking is Pixar’s brand mascot. Well, Luxo Jr. earned Pixar their very first Academy Award nomination and so they turned their milestone into their mascot.

What should you consider when you develop your brand mascot? 

You now know what a mascot is and the different types of mascots that you can choose from. But how can you develop your brand mascot? What factors should you pay attention to? Here are some ideas to keep in mind.

Personalize your mascot

Define the main features that you want to highlight. Figure out the clothing, the colors, what the mascot will say and how it will move and interact with your audience. Give your mascot qualities that resonate with your brand. 

You need to treat this as of though you are building the character in a book or in a movie. Get in deep into the world of your mascot so that the final result is believable. Ask yourself these questions when you work with your designer to create your mascot. 

  • What is your mascot’s personality like?
  • Do they have particular likes and dislikes?
  • How do they tie into your your brand?
  • What does the mascot do in their spare time?
  • Will you give them a complete backstory with details like where they live?

These are just a few questions to get you started. You can make up as many questions as you want to, depending on how rich of a story you’ll be creating.

Focus on your target audience

People tend to relate more with mascots that they share values with. For example, kids would like fun and bright-colored mascots. Bank customers would like calm and friendly mascots. 

Go through different concepts with your designer 

After the concepts have been short-listed, start working with your designer to sketch out some ideas. This will allow both you and your designer to put your minds together on what needs fine-tuning. Especially as you consider whether your mascot will or won’t work in different placements.

Create some mockups 

Once the rough concepts are completed and reviewed, it will be time to digitally flesh out your mascot. Pick colors carefully and work with your designer to fine-tune and complete the digital version of your mascot. This will be the version you’ll use in your marketing. 

How can you incorporate your mascot into your marketing? 

Here are a few idea to get you started:

  • Turn your mascot into your brand ambassador, and give them a name and a personality. Bear in mind that the name should be easy enough to read, aligned with the backstory that you have created for them, and unique enough for a higher SEO ranking.
  • You can incorporate the mascot into your logo. On the other hand, you can simply include your mascot in your marketing, alongside your logo to reinforce it. 
  • You can use your mascot to promote your products and services. This could be by using as a part of a package design or on your product pages on the website.
  • Use it on printed or digital marketing creatives, as part of your designs.
  • Bring even the most boring website pages to life by adding your brand mascot. And this doesn’t just have to be decorative. Your brand mascot can point, look or gesture to different parts of your site to assist with navigation and interaction. Just try to avoid going overboard with this.
  • Use the mascot in your blog illustrations. While many brands have images in their blogs, very few use illustrations of their mascot in them. 
  • Add them to social media posts like infographics and comic strips and the likes that can make for highly shareable content.
  • Use your mascot to create a line of limited edition promo merchandise like catchy and funky t-shirts, for a specific event or a milestone. 

Essentially, you can make your mascot a part of all your marketing from newsletters, and email campaigns, to your website and social media. The only limits are the ones that you want to place.

Mascots that didn’t make it

A brand mascot can be a great addition to your marketing. But not all mascots make it. And while we’ve shown you examples of beloved mascots, we would be remiss not to tell you about a few that haven’t been well-received. You’ll see from these cautionary tales that there are some things you should avoid when deciding on your brand mascot.

Clippit aka Clippy 

Perhaps one of the most well-known examples of a retired mascot is Clippy. Clippy was the Microsoft Office Assistant launched in Windows 97. Clippy was supposed to help when people were writing. And would give you useful advice as you were working. Unfortunately, that’s not how everyone felt. Many users felt Clippy wasn’t helpful and just stared at them from a corner of the screen. So Microsoft took into account the strong negative response from users, and retired Clippy. 

Mucinex’s Mr. Mucus

As his name suggests, Mr. Mucus is offensive, and outright gross. Just like the germs that get us sick. Mucinex’s backstory here is that it’s strong enough to take Mr. Mucus out. But the emphasis on the unpleasant problem, with a personification of mucus, didn’t quite work out. In fact, in an E-Poll Market Research study of 1500 people, between ages 13-49, Mr. Mucus, was the second most hated brand mascot.

The London 2012 Olympic Games mascots 

These mascots are not human, animal, objects and certainly have no clear personality. They were named Wenlock and Mandeville and were modeled after the steel droplets that fell from the stadium. People did not find them memorable and many said they felt like the mascots looked more like TV show rejects. The bottom line – clarity and the ability to relate to mascots is not an option. It is mandatory.

Ready to create your own brand mascot? 

Have fun with the process and reach out to your customers and target audience to see what they think, before you get too invested. You can ask your designer to mock up some ideas and use social media to get the pulse of your followers. You can also try incorporating a brand mascot into some of your creatives or social media posts to see how they do. The point here is that you can go slow and steady, as you gather all the data you need to figure out what the right brand mascot is for you. And once you land on the right one, you’ll be able to amplify your brand in some very impactful ways.