Taming Your Brand Mascot

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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One Response to Taming Your Brand Mascot

  1. I specialize in designing brand mascots. They are one of the most powerful marketing tools a company can use to build a strong brand, if they are designed and deployed the right way. There are some do’s and don’ts that I use to guide clients with regard to brand mascots. For example, don’t let your brand mascot share the spotlight with other characters. Don’t use a brand mascot to promote a luxury item or something with such a distinctive feature or benefit that the character detracts from it. Brand mascots are best for highly competitive market arenas where it is hard to differentiate players. You can read more at my Web site, http://www.toons4biz.com, and see our collection of over 100 stock brand mascot clip art sets for small businesses.

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