Besides the proper use of social media outlets, there is another trend that is becoming a popular and powerful way to humanize your brand and foster a friendly relationship with your targeted buyers — characters who serve as mascots for businesses. Some companies may not realize it, but nowadays having a mascot is just as important (and possibly more important) than having a logo. Using mascot design for your business not only increases your chances of being noticed, but it also makes your business a lot more memorable.
First of all, a logo especially a mascot logo is not a brand and a nickname is not a mascot but all three, when designed and utilized properly can strengthen your brand. So what is a mascot: an animal, person, or thing adopted by a group (team, company, organization, product etc.) as its representative symbol and supposed to bring good luck: For example the U.S. Navy mascot is a goat.
Why a Mascot?
There are several reasons:
1 They help invoke a sense of belonging or loyalty.
2 Product mascots often produce a warm, nostalgic effect on customers and potential customers.
3 Today’s computer graphics allows mascots to appear more natural.
4 Mascots can always appear more warm and smiley.
5 Mascots tap into the buying power of children.
6 Mascots can be less PC (political correct) than human representatives.
Nora Richardson in her blog The Branding Spot states:
“Many of the reasons I see mascots returning to the scene are the same reasons mascots exist in the first place. And maybe these reasons have become more important with the evolving trends in social media and Internet presence. After all, the whole point is to make your company more accessible, more approachable and friendlier – and that’s exactly what mascots do!”
Real or Make-Believe
One of the first decisions that needs to be made concerning logo mascots is whether the mascot is a fictional character or a human spokesman. The two choices have unique pros and cons.
An illustrated, animated or otherwise fictional character can be designed to serve many purposes and is extremely functional. Cartoon mascots can be visually stylized in ways that real people cannot. This is especially true for products that are marketed to children and true when using broadcasting. Research by healthfinder.gov in 2010 found that products with familiar cartoon characters on the box were more likely to attract children, including that it seemed to have an affect on the product’s taste when it came to food. Another advantage is you do not have to pay a salary to a mascot character. Just think of all the money Geico saves using gecko as their mascot.
Human spokespersons can develop into mascots, especially celebrities. The spokesperson needs to represent your targeted buyers personas. You can see examples of this in the commercials for reverse mortgages and buying gold as an investment.
What makes a great mascot logo design:
- Have some level of emotional appeal to your target buyers – remember a buying decision is often first and foremost an emotional decision
- Should be unique to your industry – the cereal industry can handle only one tiger and it is Tony the Tiger.
- Represent your product, company, organization, or team in an intrinsic way – the mascot design should portray elements of your industry.
It should be noted that a mascot serving as a company symbol may not be appropriate for campaigns or for products. Tony the Tiger works for a cereal product but not for the company that owns that product. The exception to this rule is Mickey Mouse which became a corporate icon even though it was not originally planned to happen that way.
Mascot Design Considerations:
Represent the Company – the mascot should represent what the company does. With this in mind then give the design a personality that represents the organization’s values.
Story – As with everything, it all begins with a story. Develop a story – telling the world the who the mascot is and where he/she came from.
Appealing – make your mascot have appeal. This does not mean being “cute”. One of the best ways to achieve this is make the mascot design simple still permitting the mascot to convey emotion.
Target your buyers – The mascot design should be developed to target your buyer: male or female; child or adult always keeping in mind your company image.
Use props and accessories – permits the mascot to communicate/represent different aspects of the company and helps give the mascot certain personality traits.
Just like most aspects of a marketing plan, the use of the mascot must be active, frequent, and consistent.
Graphic Design Helpful Hints
Creating characters for your website can be a fun and effective way to appeal to curious visitors. There are many ways to create them using various kinds of methods. Utilize either the name or the service of the business when it comes to creating your mascot. Try sketching out various thumbnails until you get something you like. This method is just a way to get your creative juices flowing. If you prefer using vector images, you can always convert a photoshop file into an .eps or .ai file if you have Illustrator, or you can design your character directly in Illustrator in lieu of Photoshop, the choice is yours.
Mascots and the Web
A mascot can provide a website an extra layer of design and detail. The mascot can appear on web pages, private pages and works well with e-commerce sites. It’s important that your mascot design is clean and fits to the overall site design. It should strengthen your web content and not subtract from it.