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Does Your Brand Need a Mascot?

by Matt Weber

When it comes to brand mascots, we've seen bullseyes and blunders. Here's what you should consider when deciding if your brand needs a face of its own.

Mascots can revive struggling brands, make complex ideas feel more accessible, and spice up traditionally dry subjects (we’re looking at you, insurance). They serve as the link connecting a user to a product, and the best ones become so synonymous with culture, even a child can identify them. Introducing a brand mascot can be a great opportunity to drive action to your brand, but it needs to be the right fit. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when deciding if your brand needs a mascot:

Key Considerations
  • How do you want customers to feel when they look at your product or service? Take MGM, for example. Given the superstars featured in the studio’s films, the brand developed a reputation as an elevated industry leader–that’s why Leo, their regal lion, made sense as a signal of sophistication to viewers.
  • What mascot personality would best fit your brand and its goals? Maybe your mascot is an expert like the GEICO Gecko or a strategic villain like Sugar Panda–the sweets-addicted mascot born of a recent collaboration between snack company HighKey and Ryan Reynolds.
  • What’s the story of your current mascot? Similar to the origin story of your brand, this can be a great way to humanize your brand and spark curiosity. Ever wondered why we are called redpepper? Ask us about it!
Opportunities

One of the biggest reasons marketers consider adding a mascot is to build awareness around their brand. Since the human memory captures and stores images faster than text, a designer has an opportunity to efficiently communicate their brand’s identity and core values with a well-positioned mascot. They also have an opportunity to present the customer or user with an emotional trigger that will resonate on a deeper level by catering to feelings like nostalgia or comfort.

The ability of mascots to convey friendliness and accessibility makes them particularly popular among technology, insurance, food, and CPG brands. One survey found that restaurants and food brand mascots were most recognizable, with 95.6% of people polled recognizing the Starbucks mermaid. The humanizing aspect of associating a face with a brand creates instant awareness and recognition among diverse audiences who may not even speak the same language.

Limitations

Now, let’s talk logistics. Depending on the goals and budget you land on, there are lots of production options to breathe life into your mascot. For example, what a playful cartoon mascot lacks in sophistication may be made up for in cost-saving. CGI can cost you a pretty penny upfront, but investing in a modern, tech-enabled brand image can also be a tool to help industry leaders stay ahead of competitors (the evolution of the Pillsbury Doughboy is a testament to this, appearing in over 600 commercials). 

Live-action mascots portrayed by actors may be the only option for industries like skincare (where crossover with animals is a major no-no) but ongoing production costs every time you need content is a serious consideration for your budget–and don’t overlook the risk of damage to your brand’s reputation should the actor portraying your mascot find him or herself in hot water.

Still unsure if a mascot is right for you? Let’s chat about it!

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