When you think about cereals, chance are you also think of their mascots. For years mascots have been a very important part of marketing campaigns across tons of fields.
From Cereals, to Football teams and design agencies. Mascots have a proven track record of staying in the collective consciousness for a long time.
From Kanye West’s bear persona, to Mf Doom’s, Doctor Doom inspired visuals. Mascots can be seen all across the nation.
The mascot or character can become a pivotal part of a brand. Take for example the M&M’s marketing campaign. For the past several years they’ve created content solely off the fictional personas of the individual candy colors.
We’re talking about videos, news, vlogs, all sorts of commercials and packaging material. All around these characters.
Because characters connect. They tap into our empathic sides, our human side. No longer is it a company that makes chocolate, or a rapper that raps. No, it’s the funny M&M’s gang, it’s the lovable Mickey Mouse, that connection stays for a long time. Especially if you nurture it.
So what makes a mascot special?
1- Their design:
When we’re talking about a mascot design, esentially we are talking about the shape of your character. Is he a circle like the M&M’s? Or is he more of a bean shape like Kanye bear?
The shape of your character will play a huge part on the message they convey to your potential client.
2- Their colors:
Just as important as the shape of your character is the color of your character. There are two types of ways to handle this. The first idea is to use the companies colors for your character and design them based on that, and whilst that can work it relies heavily on whether the vision for the character also represents the companies vision. Take for example the cast of McDonald’s characters:
On a quick glance we can see who was inspired by the logo and which characters were their own thing.
Ronald McDonald’s color scheme relies heavily on the yellow and red colors used all throughout their branding, this is because he is the main character for their marketing efforts, he will be the character doing most of the heavy lifting when it comes to spreading the brand. So he has to be as deeply linked to the brand as possible. It also helps that he is a clown, the yellow color can signify joy and happiness so it fits perfect with the clown motif.
The second approach is to use a contrasting color, this works wonderful for secondary characters and even villains because it creates distance from the company but can still be associated with them if you put the characters together. This is the case with McDonalds purple character “Evil Grimace” see how he even has the word “evil” in his name. The distance that the contrasting color gives makes it so the company does not get an association with the word evil, but once the characters are all together, you still have a cast of characters that look great.
Whenever you start creating a character take all these things into consideration. The most impactful characters take everything into account. What your character tells your audience at first glance (without you explaining it) will determine their success or lack there of.
3- The name:
The name is also very important. We have characters like Toucan Sam, the Trix Rabbit, Ronald McDonald, Mickey Mouse and many many more, whose names are deeply ingrained in our childhoods. The name you pick for them must be a name that connects to you and your audience. A great way to not mess up is to go ahead and make a list of possible names, and run them through your team, take note of which ones they like and which ones they do not. This way you’ll find the best name for your character and will already have an idea of the audience reception when the character goes live.
Now, it’s true. Not all companies need a mascot character. A doctor’s office that caters to adults might not need a character mascot but a pediatrician’s office would definitely benefit from them. Having characters that appeal to kids while they wait to get their shots, will help soothe them and will be much more effective in calming them than a room full of certificates and paintings.
Determine if your business will benefit from a character mascot and go ahead and start designing. Put all your ideas down on paper and once you have that initial sketch ready, take it to a professional artist so they can bring your vision to life.