Taming Your Brand Mascot

May 10, 2010

From Tony The Tiger, Trix Rabbit and Energizer Bunny to Ronald McDonald and even John McCain (?!) brand mascots are a common tool to promote your product or service. More recently even Twitter mascots have been showing up as a company’s public face.

The good ones are those that you don’t even think about until you decide to wear your marketer hat. That’s what makes them memorable.

A recent article I read on Harvard Business Review, “ Aflac’s CEO Explains How He Fell For The Duck” made me think about brand messaging and the use of mascots. The article is great because it gives you an insider’s view of how the famous Aflac duck came to being and the challenges Aflac’s CEO had to overcome to get it adopted.

The first Aflac duck debuted in 2000. The company reported $9.7 billion (US and Japan combined) that year, up $1 billion from the previous year. In 2008, revenues were up to $16.6 billion. Amos credits this increase mostly due to the branding initiatives related to the duck, an amazing feat for any brand mascot. Here are some highlights of the Aflac duck’s impact:

  • First year after the duck’s introduction, sales were up by 29%.
  • Name recognition increased 67% after two years of running the commercials. Today the name recognition is 90%.
  • The duck has 165,000 facebook fans in the US.
  • In two months 100,000 people posted spoofs of the Japanese duck’s song online.

How do you create a successful brand mascot? I particularly like the tips a FastCompany article, “Brands with character”, gives:

  1. Give the brand human traits
  2. Create a life, backstory to your character/mascot
  3. Plan for the long run
  4. Don’t overcomplicate

What mascots do you consider memorable and why?

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