Almost everyone in the world knows Ronald McDonald. Ask every child or adult; they will be able to recognize his curly red hair, his yellow overalls, his red and white striped shirt, and his massive red shoes.
The “Chief Happiness Officer” of the American fast-food chain McDonald’s is one of if not the most well-known mascots ever. He was introduced to the world in 1963 in a commercial as the silly, burger-loving, human face of the brand. Since then, he has appeared in a variety of ads for the fast-food chain. He even has charities (the Ronald McDonald House Charities) around the world named after him.
Although more recently, Ronald McDonald has been on hiatus as the incidence of clown attacks increased, he was a great example of an effective brand mascot. He did not only sell goods to consumers. He is McDonald’s.
Over the decades, consumers have witnessed other mascots introduced to the market. There is the Pillsbury Doughboy, KFC’s Colonel Sanders, M&M’s spokescandies, Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger, and Kool-Aid’s Pitcher Man. They appear on product packaging, posters, billboards, commercials and appear in events and other promotions.
Mascots do not always stick around and become recognizable figures, but those who can be successful advocates of the brand. However, more recently. Fewer brands are introducing ambassadors.
The Impact of Mascots
Mascots are memorable. They create a friendly image and reputation that consumers associate with the brand’s products and services.
There is proof that mascots work. One recent study assessed the impact of anthropomorphized characters on consumers. These characters (a panda, a bird, and a big cat) were designed to either look “mature” or “cute.” Unsurprisingly, consumers responded more positively to the cute characters.
The researchers also found that the cute anthropomorphized spokescharacters enhanced the “warmth” consumers felt toward the brand. They saw the brand as “kind” and more likely to care about the wellness of others.
Another study found that mascots boost the sales of companies they represent. Using data from the IPA DataMINE database, the researchers found that companies that use Fluent Devices (fictitious characters) are 37 percent more likely to increase their market share, 27 percent more likely to gain new customers, and 30 percent more likely to improve profit gains.
Despite the obvious benefit of the use of mascots, only 4 percent of all brands in the U.S. create and use characters in their ads.
How to Create a Brand Mascot
A brand mascot benefits a business. However, for it to be successful, it has to reflect what the brand is all about, and it should be visually pleasing, as the study above showed. It is worth hiring artists who can design a character and craft an ad for it on your behalf.
Companies should outsource 2D animation services for the introduction of the character to the public. The mascot will have to tell a brand story through colors and shapes, gestures, facial expressions, and other features.
A mascot can either be a human (think Barbie and Mr. Clean), an animal (Hello Kitty or Mickey Mouse), or an object (Mr. Peanut and Bugdroid).
The mascot should embody the qualities and values of the brand. At the same time, it should also reflect the personalities and values of your target audience to connect with them.
Using Social Media as a Mascot
Most mascots have their own social media profiles, which the brand uses to advertise promotions or new products and services. Brands that use mascots to communicate with customers see an increase in engagement and improved online presence, which is necessary to boost brand visibility and recognition.
Brands are using their mascots as a way to more subtly sell products and services. Consumers do not respond well to blatant self-promotion but, with mascots, they are a lot more receptive to marketing.
It could be because they see mascots as individuals, not as faceless entities. They are, therefore, a lot kinder when interacting with mascots and look at mascots more fondly.
Moreover, mascots can have personalities. Take Wendy’s, for example. The redhead is known to be sassy and often has “beef” with other brands or even with her followers. She now has over 3.8 million followers on Twitter.
Mascots are still very effective at boosting sales and establishing brand recognition. They give consumers something or someone to associate the brand with. However, not a lot of businesses utilize mascots to grow their clientele and improve their image. Many businesses can reap benefits by investing in a mascot in the present day and, likely, into the decades to come.