What is a Brand Mascot?

What is a Brand Mascot?
By Arya

Table of Contents

Sometimes, top-notch branding isn’t enough. Maybe you’re in a highly competitive market. Maybe you and your competitors look similar from a distance. Maybe you just need more of your brand’s personality to come through at a glance. Enter a brand mascot!

A brand mascot, also known as a trade character, serves as the face of a brand. Humans are drawn to characters more than brand logos, names, and slogans.

Mascots are symbolic, distinctive, and lovable, designed to catch your audience’s attention and evoke certain emotions.

Mascots aren’t new at all, but they’re still undervalued. Read on to know all about them!

Definition & Evolution

Here’s a more dictionary-like definition: a brand mascot is a visual and symbolic representation of a brand’s identity.

The best mascots capture the essence of your brand and bring it to their every interaction with your audience. Brand mascots can take various forms, including humans, objects, and abstract symbols, not just animals or whimsical creatures.

Mascot use dates back to the 19th century. (For example, the Michelin Man of Michelin Tires was introduced in 1894.) Even then, simple pictures of mascots helped stand out in print advertising. These lovely characters have come a long way since, finding their way into websites, apps, every media platform, and even virtual reality.

Michelin-logo-min

Their wide adoption allows them to do their job better while getting you more audience engagement and real-time interaction. Neat! You’ll need that high interactivity to stay in the game.

Physical vs. Digital Brand Mascots

Both physical and digital mascots have overlapping uses and can complement each other. For example, a digital mascot can be brought to life in physical events as a costume, as an action figure, or in modern ways like AR/VR.

Physical mascots’ biggest advantage is that they are tangible, making them the better choice for live events and in-store promotions, given the current technical landscape.

For example, a baby store might benefit more from a fluffy physical mascot. If babies visit, they’d love the colors. Even the babies’ slightly older siblings would love to hug them, play with them, or ask them questions.

The main disadvantage of physical mascots is that they have a high cost of product and maintenance, and they have some risks!

For example, Ronald McDonald has been passed on among eight trained clowns and four professional voiceover artists since 1963. Imagine the auditions and the costumes! Physical mascots can also have a limited reach compared to digital ones.

Digital mascots, meanwhile, offer greater flexibility and reach as a first advantage. They’re relatively easy to design and animate and also easy to adapt and update according to the digital platform of your choice. They’re also more cost-effective, as they don’t need any physical production and maintenance.

The big problem with digital mascots is their lack of physical touch. Today’s immersive technologies, like VR headsets with haptic gloves, aren’t yet widely available, so your digital mascots won’t have the boldest, most interactive presence in your physical events just yet.

Here’s a table of what we just covered:

Physical Mascot Digital Mascot
Tangible, great for physical and in-store events Less interactive in physical and in-store events
Costly to produce and maintain Cost-effective to produce and maintain
Limited reach Broader reach and flexibility

Why Do Businesses Employ Brand Mascots?

Is all of this just to differentiate yourself?

Well, mostly yes. If you’re different, you’re easier to recognize. Plus, a distinct brand is more likely to form a deeper bond with its audience. Let’s take a look at these two points.

Benefits of a Mascot on Brand Awareness

A well-designed mascot has the potential to be the synonym of your brand but with a “bigger” presence involving more of the audience’s senses.

Even if you just go for a static mascot, use them well, and they’ll create an instant visual memory cue. Useful, especially for crowded markets.

Brand recall quickly follows brand recognition. When you employ a distinctive mascot, your customers are more likely to remember your brand when they want to make a purchase. Continued purchases, in turn, boost brand loyalty.

Emotional Connection with Customers and Storytelling

Another major benefit that mascots could bring you is that they give your brand.

Your brand has a personality; that’s a branding rule. Even so, your brand’s personality traditionally comes through its visuals and voice. A mascot, however, gives your brand the ability to connect with anyone at a human level. (Remember we said mascots are usually anthropomorphic? This is why!) So, if you’d like your brand to evoke various emotions in the audience, mascots, and trade characters are a way to go.

Such an emotional connection is good in itself, but don’t forget that it can also enhance the overall customer experience. You go to the website to make a purchase, select the item, add it to your list, and right before you go to the cold, soulless payment gateway, the business mascot pops up to make a fun comment. Isn’t that a better, more human experience?

So, you can employ a brand mascot to tell a compelling story that resonates with your audience.

Mascot Use Cases

So, where can you use brand mascots? The general answer is “everywhere.” That’s a fact; you can use your mascots anywhere you’d like. However, there are some use cases where mascots and trade characters are more useful.

Branding

All brand touchpoints present opportunities to feature a mascot. It can be used in internal branding assets, advertising videos, mobile applications, and events and exhibitions.

Advertising

Our experience shows that campaigns featuring trade characters or mascots often achieve higher engagement rates. That’s partially because mascots are charming by themselves and partially because audience members will recognize your brand with the mascot.

On social media

mascots are a gold mine of engagement! They can appear in posts, talk directly to customers when they want, reveal behind-the-scenes info from your company, and, overall, create a dynamic presence for your brand.

In events and promotions

your mascot could be the life of the party and your most true-blue advocate! As we mentioned, physical mascots have historically been more successful here but also extended reality technologies could help to bring mascots in real life.

We have our eyes on the advancements in virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and other interactive experience technologies. Give them a little time, and they’re sure to revolutionize how digital mascots interact with your audience.

On website

you can use mascots to increase engagement and decrease bounce rate effectively. For example, your mascot could get an AI brain and respond to audience questions in customer support.

The sky’s the limit in mascot use!

Brand Mascot Design & Development

In this section, we intend to give you a general overview of what it takes to make a mascot that works.

Our Steps in Creating a Mascot

As a creative design agency, we have had the opportunity to create various Trade mascots and refine our process along the way. Here they are!

1. Brand Review & Discovery

The mascot should be an accurate representation of your brand, so thoroughly understanding the brand is the first logical step in making a mascot.

This phase involves deep research into the brand’s values, mission, personality, target audience, unique selling points, tone and voice, positioning, etc.

Understanding what your brand stands for and what emotions it seeks to evoke is crucial for developing a mascot that resonates with the audience tells a compelling story.

 2. Market Research

In this step, we analyze the market landscape to identify trends and gaps that the mascot can fill.

This includes examining competitors’ mascots and understanding consumer preferences or expectations. A comprehensive market research ensures your mascot won’t be a hit-and-miss. The research also feeds into the next steps, ensuring that your overall marketing strategy has a place for a unique, relevant mascot that appeals to your target demographics.

3. Story Universe Development

How about creating a whole world around the character as the next step? It might sound unnecessary, but having a world helps make the character more natural and easier for people to connect with.

The basics here are developing a backstory and a narrative universe for the mascot and of course, weaving the brand’s values and messages in those narratives.

This storytelling approach allows the brand to communicate its messages in a rich, engaging way and foster a deeper connection with consumers.

4. Character Profile Design

Creating a memorable character goes beyond looks; it’s about their personality too. During this phase, we define the mascot’s traits, behaviors, and quirks. Is the mascot funny or serious?

What are some of their particularities when speaking or moving? As we’ve said several times so far, these characteristics should align with the brand’s identity and appeal directly to the target demographic. The goal is to develop a personality that everyone loves and wants to be friends with, fostering a bond between the mascot and its audience. Naming the mascot happens in this step as well!

5. Creative Character Design

The design phase begins when we have all the details about the character neatly outlined in a brief.

We often select multiple designers for a single project to ensure a variety of creative ideas, from initial sketches to a fully iterative design.

After refining the concepts and implementing ideas into sketches, we settle on a 2D design that you approve and move on to modeling the character in 3D.

This step truly brings the character to life, complete with facial expressions, poses, and other details that make it dynamic. The final design should be approved by everyone, visually appealing, and ready to make a lasting impression on the audience!

6. Brand Mascot Launch

A critical milestone in a mascot’s development is the launch phase. The launch should create a strong initial impact, introducing the mascot through various campaigns and channels such as social media, commercials, and events.

Wherever it’s best for your business to launch the mascot on, it’s critical to stay with the innovative ideas and campaigns.

An engaging brand mascot activation ensures that your mascot gets the attention it deserves and is ready to secure a place for you in the market.

7. Using the Mascot in the long term

So, your mascot is now out there. Still, remember to keep incorporating them in your ongoing marketing and branding efforts. (Otherwise, it might not make much of a difference.)

This final step is here to make sure the mascot can easily be part of your future efforts.

To that end, we’ll provide you with a mascot book, a set of guidelines that outline the mascot’s purpose, audience, personality, and visual identity. The book will help you maintain a consistent presence for the mascot across various channels and initiatives while preserving its effectiveness in depicting and promoting your brand.

3 Examples of Popular Mascots

To illustrate everything we’ve said so far, let’s go over two examples of well-known mascots. If you’re looking for more, take a look at our list of popular mascots!

Example 1: The Land of Legends Mascots

The Land of Legends is a premier entertainment destination in Antalya, Turkey. The brand needed to blend the excitement of an amusement park with the luxury of a world-class resort. So, we saw an opportunity to distill the brand’s identity into a family of unique, lovable mascots!

These mascots, including the regal Landlord and his elegant daughter Tosca, embody the brand’s values of hospitality, prestige, warmth, leadership, and familial unity. They underwent a meticulous development process, which you got an overview of in the above section. So, their design captures vivid expressions, behaviors, textures, and colors, ensuring they appeal to the diverse audience the client has to this day.

They will appear in live performances, digital platforms, and merchandising, relying on a rich narrative universe to enhance the brand’s storytelling.

They continue to engage and delight visitors to this day, thanks to innovative technologies like AR and VR! You can find more information about this mascot here.

Example 3: Namour

Namour is one of our latest mascot projects.

The Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) was launched in 2021 to unite people in Saudi Arabia to tackle climate change and make the country greener.

To make a real impact, SGI decided to focus on the youth of Saudi Arabia. They wanted to educate and engage young people through a new sub-brand featuring a mascot. This friendly character would help make SGI’s message more relatable and fun, especially for kids. The mascot would explain SGI’s goals simply and understandably, encouraging everyone to care for the environment.

We started by understanding our audience and goals. We thought about different options like the sand cat, gazelle, fennec fox, and caracal. Each was considered after a deep study of Saudi wildlife. But in the end, nothing could better showcase the beauty of Saudi wildlife and connect with our audience like an Arabian Leopard. After months of hard work, we introduced Namour, our friendly and proud Arabian Leopard.

Namour’s first “hi” to Saudi Arabia marked the beginning of many adventures to come. We aimed to make Namour a beloved symbol of Saudi Arabia’s green journey, capturing hearts and minds and leading everyone towards a sustainable future.

We hope that one day, Namour will be recognized globally as a cute and powerful symbol of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to becoming greener.

If you’re looking to make quite a shift in your brand’s engagement, a brand mascot might be the way to go! In this piece, we covered what they are, where they’re most used, and the overall steps to go through when creating them. If you need a mascot design, give us a call!

Example 3: Duolingo’s Duo

The Duolingo owl, Duo, stands as a prime example of a modern digital mascot that has successfully captivated a global audience. Duo was first introduced in covers for some posts in Duolingo’s “Discussions” in 201, and has now become the face of Duolingo, the popular language-learning app. It’s a green, wide-eyed owl designed mainly to be friendly and motivating, embodying the brand’s mission to make language learning accessible, enjoyable, and engaging for everyone.

The owl is mainly a hallmark of Duolingo’s user experience, popping in daily lessons to tell you you’re doing amazing and to congratulate you on your progress. They appeal to the younger audience targeted from around 2012 and contribute to Duolingo’s gamified experience as well.

The duo appears mainly in the app and the website, but they’re present across all channels. (Instagram, merchandise, etc.) This allows for every fan to be in touch with the brand and even carry a piece of it everywhere.

Moreover, Duolingo has expanded Duo’s reach through merchandise, offering items such as plush toys, clothing, and accessories featuring the beloved owl. This merchandise allows fans to show their love for Duolingo and carry a piece of the brand with them. With Duo’s help, Duolingo has managed to build a community of loyal users who are motivated to learn and engage with the brand regularly.

Category:

Related posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *