­­­Mascot Marketing: Role of mascots in brand recognition

Key takeaways:

  • Understanding the concept of mascot and mascot marketing
  • Identifying the impact created by brand mascots in the process of brand development
  • Emphasizing the importance of incorporating personalized features into brand identity elements
  • Learning the detailed process of developing different types of brand mascots
  • Articulating a company’s vision into the mascot design for non-verbal communication and emotional connection with the audience

Introduction:

In light of the rapid digitalization of marketing channels and customer platforms, marketers are subjected to constantly iterating innovative and profitable marketing strategies. While the brand-verse is busy extracting the creative capabilities of resources, one of the extremely successful techniques like mascot marketing is still stabilizing the presence of brands and enhancing the brand recognition process by communicating through their eye-catching and witty brand mascots.

The change in the marketing landscape and consumer behavior demands for adoption of change in conventional methods of designing brand mascots. Since the essence of personal touch involved in this strategy could completely change the commercial dynamics of the brand, it is important to analyze the intricate elements related to the design of mascots and the convictions that evolved before getting oneself started with the implementation of mascot marketing.

What is a mascot?

A mascot is an illustration of a character communicating the brand’s value proposition in absolute alignment with the brand’s vision and product or service. The word mascot originated from the French word “Mascotte”, which means a lucky charm. Hence, they are often considered lucky and believed to bring desired success to the brand.

They are the creatures that represent the symbolic value of the brand through the animated or abstracted form of animals, human figures, or any creative objects. They are associated with highly influencing characteristics that help the brand leave its image on the target audience.

Using brand mascots is a creative way of marketing and advertising that makes the brand more relatable and memorable, especially for children and families. Hence mascot marketing is referred to as one of the most effective brand recognition strategies opted by many big brands.

Mascot marketing is one such technique used to personify the brand to create a strong brand image in the view of prospective customers. It also serves one of the highly crucial purposes of any brand which is brand positioning.

Brand mascots are proven to have the power to change the undercurrents of business of brands mostly in B2C type of marketing when compared to B2B type. This is due to the emotional association of the mascot with the customers as they are designed to express empathy and relevance on behalf of the brand in social elements as well on various public and media platforms.

Significance of mascot marketing

The competitive market scenarios demand for impactful brand recognition strategies to survive and grow in the market. Personalizing the journey of the customers through these mascots can be the best way to create uniqueness in the brand and differentiate themselves from others. If designed and executed with precision and determination mascot marketing has many more competitive advantages:

Enhancing brand identity

Establishing a business essentially requires brand identity and brand recognition in the first and foremost place. This requirement can be achieved by setting a customized tone, color, and voice to a mascot developed by the brand which can narrate the brand’s objective and become the official storyteller of the brand. For example, Mickey Mouse the brand mascot of Disney, in Redshorts, wearing yellow shoes and white gloves still has an undefeated legacy intact.

These noticeable features of mascots will stimulate the vision of the customers and compel them to recognize the brand from the bunch of competitors. To achieve this unparalleled output of brand identity the creative construction of brand mascots is proven to be crucial in many instances.

Intensifying emotional connection:

Brand psychology is another important aspect that needs to be understood by marketers to ensure their reach to the wider customer base and build a loyal market for the brand. This will include the clear and unambiguous communication of brand value and offerings to customers which is preferably attained successfully when done using various emotions and expressions rather than verbal or written media.

This is when mascot marketing comes into the picture which serves the exactly similar purpose of expressing the brand’s opinion, and stance like Amul girl the brand mascot of Amul, wearing a white dress with red polka dots in a half-tied ponytail of blue hair is doing a since 1967 through humorous taglines and witty captions creating a satirical conversation altogether. 

Increasing brand engagement:

Similarly for any brand to secure its position in the market it is important to reinforce its presence through the marketing channels by pulling the audience attention and keep them engaged with the brand’s activities for most of the time. In order to develop this customer engagement with brand all the big players will make use of mascot marketing all across media channels like print, digital and social media which will prompt the customers to think about the brand, understand the message, and share it with their closed ones like when Vodafone had completely taken over the market with their white egg-like creatures performing many kinds of comic activities in between the commercial breaks of IPL seasons. Vodafone named these mascots as Zoo-Zoo and they were immensely loved by all the cricket lovers and many children too.

In addition to the mentioned visual channel these brand mascots are also planted in many public spaces, commercial malls, and social events. They do all the possible attractive activities to grab the attention of the audience especially kids and families to keep them engaged throughout the event and leave a lasting impact of brand image on.

Facilitating the revenue enhancement:

The ultimate goal of any organization will certainly lead to a few of the objectives like revenue generation, profit-making, and market share acquisition. All of these can be achieved only by boosting the sales of the brand and by improving the brand’s image in the customer’s mind. Researchers also say that brands without mascots are likely to increase their market share by 30% while brands with mascots are likely to increase share by 37%.

This direct impact of mascot marketing on sales can be seen in the case of McDonald’s Grimace Birthday Meal, which had a photo-friendly purple milkshake, bringing back the nostalgia of McDonaldland character Grimace, a purple-colored, scary-looking creature. This campaign reportedly increased the net sales of McDonald’s sales by 14% which was expected to be $6.27 Billion but reached $6.50 Billion. Shares of the company were also up nearly 2% in midday trading according to Wall Street data.

Therefore, the designing of brand mascots is given utmost importance in the process of brand development and recognition strategies. The detailed aspects that are to be paid attention to while designing mascots are also derived in the course of trial and error of mascot marketing. They are:

Character of the mascot:

To develop a mascot first and fore mostly the character of the mascot needs to be decided. Choosing these characters also depends on the type of industry a brand belongs to, the type of offering the brand is providing, and the characteristics of the offering. Based on this the characters are generally differentiated into 3 categories:

Personality of the mascot:

1. Human character:

A company that has a brand image of a person associated with it can create a human mascot by taking the reference from a real person and designing the mascot in close resemblance to that person like Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC.

This can be an added advantage to the brand since the person has an established image and publishing a mascot of his character wouldn’t need comparatively high pilot marketing expenses to launch and imprint the same.

Similarly, the company can also develop a fictional character and give life to it by integrating brand values into it.

2. Animal character:

Animal mascots are widely used in branding due to their liveliness and emotional attachment of humans towards them. These are used both in the service and product industry as they can be related to various features of the products and services with their inherent qualities and abilities.

For example, Duracell Battery uses a rabbit as their brand mascot in association with the prominent character of the rabbit, which is its fast running. This symbolizes a faster performance of the Duracell batteries.

3. Object character:

These are the characters that have emerged out of the creative liberty of the graphic designers and are completely fictional yet have emotions and values in alliance with the brand and society. They are mostly seen in the product-based industry since many of the times the body of the object mascot is built out of the product itself.

M&M’s Spokes candies are the best example of object mascots as they are developed from the candies itself.

Personality of the mascot:

After choosing the suitable character, to begin with the story telling process of brand it is also important to develop certain personalities and traits of the mascot that reflect the company’s ideas and attributes. This step is what differentiates the brand from competitors by personalizing the mascot according to the company principles and customer perceptions.

This process of personality development at times might require the creation of a context and backstory of the character to make it more versatile and functional in any given market situation. The context of characters can be made as relatable and creative as possible to resonate with the target audience.

Tone of the mascot:

Although a mascot is a visual object used to pursue the audience the tone of the demonstration of the mascot plays a decisive role in the reach of the strategy. This tone depends upon the nature of the product or service of the brand, like:

  • A student-toned mascot to learn about the highly sophisticated technology of any electronic device or software service of a company
  • A teacher-toned mascot to teach about a newly introduced technology, chemical specifications of a medical product, or safety measures to be taken while providing hazardous services.

Visual appearance of the mascot:

The attention of the audience is trapped by the visual image of the mascot, hence the structure chosen for the mascot needs to be evaluated from the available options like animated or realistic characters.

If the animated character is chosen then the development and designing would be easier and cost-effective when compared to the realistic option as they required more layered and detailed designs.

Examples:

The Amul girl who was awarded the title of ‘’Asia’s Most Admired Mascot’’ in 2007 by the Asian Brand Congress is a cheerful little girl wearing a red polka dots dress with half-tied blue hair. She has been one of the longest-running advertising mascots in India. She has a playful and iconic personality which perfectly conveys the values of the company like purity and quality.

The Amul girl’s is more relatable and emotionally closer to the target audience because of her exclusive quality of witty commentary on current affairs like:

“For example, when Bombay was changed to Mumbai, the one-liner dropped by her was ‘BOM BYE’.

When the much-needed maiden lunar probe was launched by India’s Space Program, ISRO in 2008 Amul girl commented with a congratulatory tag line “Chaar chand lag gaye!”

The Parle-G mascot is a round faced little baby with bob cut hair, launched in 1960 by the advertising team of the company to communicate that the Parle-Gluco biscuits are a good snack to feast upon and are specially made for children to serve their daily quantity glucose intake.

This mascot had been a success to an extent that it almost became a staple snack for many of the Indian’s including adults and had started the biscuit eating culture in India.

After few days of research Parle-G found the increased support of parents towards their children to choose their career rather than doctor or engineer and had tried to promote their brand by connecting to this emotion and launched the iconic tag line “G for genius”

The brand extended and revived their positioning in 2013 with another attractive refrain ‘Kal Ke Genius’

Conclusion:

As per the discussion of the significance of mascot marketing and design process of the mascots, we have understood how impactful these brand mascots can be if used in right direction and placed in right location. They can potentially optimize the output of marketing campaigns leaving ever-lasting impressions on customers and target audience. Hence even in today’s digital era, mascot marketing has its own legacy secured and sound challenging the newly emerging digital marketing strategies.

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Hashmitha Kante

Content writer

Nayan Bhandari

Graphic designer

Kumar Shantanu

Editor

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