Mascots have been around for many, many years. Ronald McDonald and his farm put burgers in our hands for years, Tony the Tiger reminded us how GRR-R-REAT Frosties were, Colonel Sanders invented a recipe that was finger-lickin’ good, and Geico’s Martin told us that with only 15 minutes of our time, we could save 15% or more on car insurance.
Some of the OG brand characters, like Tony and Bibendum, the Michelin Man, have survived the test of time. The others? Brands had to either retire or replace them.
But the good news is they are STILL IMPORTANT. In fact, it might be time for you to take advantage of this hidden, forgotten golden opportunity.
Companies that use brand mascots enjoy a 37% better positioning rate than those that don’t.
That’s a number your brand can definitely profit from. Brand mascots increase engagement, create familiarity, build trust, and connect to your audience in a way that no other marketing strategy can.
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What Is a Brand Mascot?
Brand mascots, sometimes referred to as brand characters are the ambassadors of your brand, business, or company. These characters can be infused with “Anthropomorphism”; the practice of endowing human attributes to objects or animals.
Unsurprisingly, humans are the most prevalent species of mascots. Due to our similar characteristics, animals come close in second.
The Advantages of Having a Brand Mascot
1. You can interact with your audience whenever you want
Mascots are a blessing when it comes to engagement. They tell stories, look your audience right in the eyes, smile at them, and can interact with them in real time!
2. They considerably boost your marketing efforts
According to MPC, long-term campaigns featuring a character can increase profit gain by 34.1%. That is while campaigns that do without are at 26.2%.
The same study found that the average increase in new customer gain will be 40.9%, as opposed to 32% for ads without.
The only thing is you have to be patient and be simple and consistent with
3. Your brand becomes unique
The level of memorability and familiarity a mascot can generate in the minds of your audience is unmatched. There are hundreds -if not thousands- of competitors with similar products who run campaign after campaign to get their share of the market as quickly as possible. But with a personalized brand character that clearly communicates your qualities and goals, you can stand out in the rivalry.
4. They create empathy, Marketing’s best friend
Although data-driven marketing won’t bring you down, emotional connection is more valuable than satisfaction. Thanks to the human-like characteristics found in mascots, people will remember them better and easier.
5. Mascots are an alleyway to healthy food marketing
Mascots have a strong effect on children because of their emotional connection with them. They can be used to promote healthy diets and foods, especially among younger children who are more vulnerable to food marketing. Kids may go from fast food to a nutritious choice just because their favorite character represents it.
6. They’re a safe branding and marketing strategy
In the early 2000s, Subway was many people’s choice of healthy, low-calorie food. The brand received further popularity when a young man called Jared Fogle, who claimed the healthy snacks and sandwiches helped with his jaw-dropping weight loss, became the face of the business.
A few years later, he was imprisoned after being convicted of “sex crime” charges. Jared was immediately removed from the brand, but the damage was done. That’s the last thing you want for your brand.
That could’ve all been avoided if Subway bet their chips on a mascot.
Just remember, mascots are not “trouble-free”. If your brand is encouraging kids to eat fast food, then some petitions and lawsuits could mar the image of your brand.
As long as you’re promoting harm-free, high-quality products or services, you should be in the clear.
The Challenges of Having a Brand Mascot
1. It doesn’t answer back overnight
After going through the brand strategy process and setting the brand identity, message, and purpose, you get into the design process. Some initial sketches are introduced, and art directors and character designers work closely with the strategy team to ensure the character respects the brand’s guidelines.
And only then becomes the birth of your mascot as it prepares to be launched and introduced to the world. Utilizing your mascot in social media, ads, blogs, and merchandising needs time. So don’t expect fast, short-term results with brand mascots.
2. Your anthropomorphism could backfire
Humanizing the connection between your brand and customers leaves more room for judgment compared to brands that don’t use anthropomorphism. This means dissatisfied customers could take the disappointment harder and view the brand’s wrongdoings more negatively than non-humanized brands.
3. The design has to be new and different
Depending on what you sell and your brand’s identity, there are many possible designs that could up your marketing.
For instance, a circular mascot is perceived as sweet, cute, and gentle, but if it is angular or sharply edged in shape, it represents an evil persona. The mascot for fitness brands needs to be trim and athletic.
In any case, the mascot needs to be unique in order to be seen in today’s market. In addition, it should be customizable for seasonal promotions.
Dare to be different, but don’t be creepy.
We keep that in mind whilst in the strategy and design steps, and we tell it to our clients too.
4. It can come out as disintegrated
Some companies go straight to art directors after working out the story and personality themselves. So, basically, all they did was come up with a character that was approved by the managers before handing the project over to character designers.
Take La’eeb, for instance. He was the official mascot of the FIFA 2022 World Cup. In an analysis we made, it seemed to us that not enough thought was put into its creation. And what came out was a not-so-strategic mascot.
Go From Man to Meerkat in Your Mascot Choices
While celebrity endorsers can cost thousands of dollars for every tweet they make to promote your brand, a mascot is an affordable, cost-effective, one-time investment. Celebrities add extra authenticity because it’s an actual person that’s representing you in the flesh. But their inaccessibility and lack of interaction put them miles behind digitized mascots.
At social events, fundraising events, ad campaigns, and even your website, and blog, it’s definitely worth considering letting your brand mascot personally connect with your audience. If the data above didn’t convince you, imagine this scenario:
You have organized an event to announce your newest product through your brand ambassador. You are super hyped about it, and your team believes in it. Everybody shows up, but he or she doesn’t. What now?
On the other hand, Aleksandr Orlov the Meerkat is the mascot that tells us about the services of a company that compares prices in the most “simples” way.
The character was designed once and has appeared in numerous ads, making people fall in love with him and, subsequently, the brand.
Celebrity ambassador vs. mascot verdict
There’s no telling what will happen with celebrities. Will they get caught up in a lawsuit? How much money are they going to charge you this time? Will they be present at each event?
These are questions you should ask yourself before going through with hiring a celebrity to represent your brand.
Are You Ready to Have a Brand Mascot of Your Own?
If you do some research, you’d most probably come to the realization that all you have to do is decide what you want your brand mascot to be or look like and then hire a design team to do the artwork.
With the multitude of brands, the audience’s tolerance of ads grew thinner. People are tired of boastful remarks and loud promises. Even if your brand is superior in ways your competitors can only dream of and offers high-quality products, you need to let it shine and show why it stands out. With a unique, creative brand mascot, you can personally communicate your brand identity and devotion.