While it might be too early to declare a full blown, out-and-out mascot revival, brand characters are certainly regaining attention in a big way. Charlie the Tuna, Speedy from Alka-Seltzer, Spam’s Sir Can-A-Lot, and Kraft’s part-milk, part-granola puppet named Mel are all making appearances. If you’re on the fence whether or not your company needs a mascot, here’s some good reasons why you do:
- Mascots make a brand come alive by adding personality and personification to a product.
- Companies who combine social media campaigns using mascots are enjoying tremendous success. Advertising campaigns on Facebook, for example, enjoy a much higher rate of “followers” and “likes” when combining mascots and posts. Mayhem has over 1.2 Million “likes.” His employer, Allstate, has 75,000.
- Carol Phillips, president of consulting group Brand Amplitude says, “They never get in trouble with the law. They don’t up their fees. You can use them for a long, long time.” They also don’t get arrested for drunk driving, have to go to rehab, walk of the set or break contracts.
- Mascots provide a great buffer for customer service. Who’s going to yell or complain to a cute, furry puppy or quick-witted lizard? One company, Qwest (before their merger) experimented with making their Facebook page manager a mascot. Posts on the page came from their mascot, “Ellen,” rather than from another anonymous corporation. Their results were interesting. They found customers who lodged a complaint were much nicer to and patient with “Ellen” than when they vented to a faceless company. When you add a mascot who can provide entertainment and humor to the mix, then the effect is amplified.
- Mascots are in a unique position and can get away with things the ordinary business professional can’t. It’s expected for them to take a light-hearted approach to even the most serious subject. They’re allowed to have more fun than most of us.
- If you want your company to entertain, make people laugh, and touch the heart, mascots can often accomplish this much easier for the company they represent than the “average Joe” will ever be able to.
- Many of today’s best-known brands use mascots to connect with customers in an engaging, memorable way. Think Tony the Tiger, Mr. Clean, the Michelin Man, the Pillsbury doughboy, the Geico gecko, and Speedy Alka-Seltzer
- Take Geico’s gecko, for example. What this little green guy accomplished for its brand is remarkable. He’s been able to position the company as a hip, quirky alternative to traditional insurance agencies. In fact, he’s been so successful that you see other insurance companies — including Allstate, State Farm, and Progressive —leave the stuffy old image behind with their own offbeat, mascot-driven campaigns.
- The use of mascots lends itself to web animations, videos, YouTube, and other digital mediums, especially if you’re trying to create a fun and trendy brand image.
- When you bring your cartoon mascot to life in a costume, they can appear at all the company’s events to engage with kids and pump up the fun.
A mascot that embodies the spirit of the brand can be incredibly powerful, and you can make the most of that power when you design a character appropriate to the industry, that can integrate into the broader corporate persona, and create a memorable and upbeat impression. And you can have a whole lot of fun in the process.