No doubt you’ve seen them before.
Mascots. They’re fictional representatives for companies, sports teams, or other organizations.
At sporting events, they’re the people you see dressed up as characters representing their teams. They’re enthusiastic, recognizable, and great at getting a crowd to cheer and get rowdy.
In case you haven’t seen a mascot before, take a look at this example. It’s Miles, the Denver Broncos’ mascot. He’s a bronco (as you might have guessed) and looks like this:
Now, I know what you’re thinking:
How is this sports mascot relevant to my business?
Well, business mascots aren’t all that different from sports mascots. While your business mascot might not literally cause a crowd to cheer, it can help you build up a crowd of raving fans who can’t get enough of your brand.
So, let’s at a few examples of businesses that use mascots and discuss whether or not you should use a mascot to promote your company.
Businesses with successful mascots
You’ve heard of Geico, right?
They’re the insurance company with the funny commercials. Chances are, when you think of Geico, you also think of this little guy:
That’s right – it’s the Geico gecko. Geico uses him to connect with their audience. And it works – the gecko was even voted America’s favorite advertising icon in 2005!
Another mascot you’ll probably recognize (especially if you work in marketing) is the MailChimp monkey, Freddy.
Mailchimp uses Freddy to communicate to customers that they’re a fun brand. On top of that, Freddy makes the name “MailChimp” easy to remember since he is literally a visual representation of that name (a chimp with a mailman’s hat on).
MailChimp has even created products that feature Freddy, like this knit cap for cats (yes, I’m serious – it’s for cats):
Image Source: Wired
They’ve also created a hat for humans that features Freddy:
Image Source: Wired
By using a mascot to create products, they have turned their loyal customers into brand ambassadors. In other words, they’re making money off of their branded products while spreading the word about their business.
Pretty cool, right?
But you certainly don’t have to sell products that feature your mascot to benefit from having a mascot. There are several other reasons you might want to create a mascot for your business.
Why You Should Consider Using a Mascot for Your Business
If you want to create something that represents your business and will stick in your customers’ heads, a mascot can definitely do the trick. Here’s how:
A good mascot will help you humanize your brand.
We’ve already talked about the Geico gecko, but they’re not the only insurance company using a mascot. You’ll probably also recognize Flo, the Progressive Girl.
She’s another great example of an effective mascot, and she’s proof that mascots don’t have to be cartoon characters to work – they can be real spokespeople and be just as effective. And Flo definitely helps humanize the Progressive brand, making them seem much more relatable to their target audience.
Insurance companies, financial companies, and other types of companies whose services can be seen as complex and/or boring tend to see huge benefits from using fun mascots this way.
Well, think about it – would you rather visit a boring insurance website full of complex industry jargon or an insurance website with a fun mascot and lots of content that’s written in a personable, easy-to-understand way?
Unless you enjoy torture, you’d choose the second one.
And you’re not alone – the vast majority of people feel the same way.
So, if your business offers services that could be considered dull or difficult to understand (IT services, financial services, etc.), think about using a mascot to make your brand more fun and relatable. There’s a good chance that you’ll connect better with your customers as a result.
The right mascot can differentiate your business.
Consistently using the right mascot can help your business stand out from the competition. There’s no doubt about that.
Let’s talk about how it works by taking a look at an example: an IT services company Smart Dolphins.
Here’s their website:
You can see that they’ve chosen to use their mascot (a dolphin) in their logo. But they don’t just stop there – they’ve created cars for their techs that look like dolphins, and they even use dolphin-related lingo (“Meet the Pod”).
Why are they doing this, you ask?
Because it makes them stand out from other IT companies (their competitors) in a major way.
Well, the vast majority of IT service companies have plain-looking, boring websites – they often just list their services and use long, boring paragraphs full of “tech talk” to try to sell. And they certainly don’t have a strong brand or a mascot to show off.
But Smart Dolphins is different.
They clearly understand the power of branding and how important it is for them to stand out if they want to win more customers than their competitors. Instead of settling for the industry norm of a plain, boring website, they’ve created a website with major personality and a super memorable theme. And their mascot fits in with that theme perfectly.
Overall, they’re just a great example of how a mascot should fit in with your overall brand strategy for maximum effectiveness.
Tips for using a mascot
When you’re deciding on a mascot, you can’t just pick a character you like and expect it to be a hit with your target audience – you’ve got to be more strategic than that. So, keep these tips in mind if you’re planning on creating a mascot:
- Keep yourself out of legal trouble. To do this, make sure your mascot is copyrighted before you use in it your marketing materials. Otherwise, you could be accused of copying someone else’s design/idea.
- Choose a mascot that represents your brand. If you’re not sure how to do this, try thinking of a few adjectives that describe how you’d like to be perceived by your target audience. Then, pick a mascot that represents those adjectives – you want your mascot’s personality to mirror your overall brand personality.
- Use your mascot often. You can use your mascot in your company logo, your marketing materials, your social network posts… the possibilities are endless. The more you use it, the more recognizable it will become.
- Consider creating a Twitter account for your mascot. Cheetos did this with their mascot, Chester Cheetah, and he has over 70K followers – just imagine how much brand visibility they’re getting from creating that account!
- If you can, pick a character that is represented in your company name (like Freddy the Chimp of MailChimp). While not absolutely necessary, following this tip can help your mascot and brand become more recognizable.
- Hire a professional graphic designer to create your mascot. Preferably, choose a designer who has created high-quality mascots in the past and understands how those mascots relate to a company’s marketing.
A word of warning
Keep in mind that an offensive mascot could create serious image problems for your brand. For example, think about the Washington Redskins football team and how much backlash they recently received for what many deem an offensive mascot.
Your brand can also suffer if you choose a real spokesperson as your mascot and they end up getting into trouble with the law or publically saying something offensive. Everyone knows what happened to Subway spokesperson Jared Fogle – you definitely don’t want to deal with something like that.
The lesson here is to choose your mascot wisely, and if they’re a real person, be mindful of how they might act outside of work.
Do you really need a mascot?
The question isn’t so much whether or not you absolutely need a mascot – it’s whether or not your company could benefit from using one.
Mascots can be helpful for just about any brand, but as we’ve discussed in this post, they’re especially helpful for companies in a service industry where tangible products are not sold. That’s because, in service industries, customers tend to make a purchase decision based on the brand – not the product.
So, if you’re in a service industry and/or struggling to sell because you have complex, technical offerings, a mascot could definitely help you connect with your target audience more easily.
But even if you’re not in a service industry, a mascot can be helpful. Just think of all of the food brands that use mascots to sell their products!
If you do decide to use a mascot, make sure you follow the tips outlined in this post and choose a mascot strategically. By doing so, you’ll greatly improve your chances of boosting your brand visibility thanks to your mascot.
Will you choose to use a mascot for your business? Share in the comments section!