What Makes A Good Mascot?

bird mascot branding

Make It Memorable.

Pillsbury Doughboy

The Pillsbury Doughboy, AKA Poppin’ Fresh

You want your company to stand out, right? Sometimes a logo just isn’t enough. What better way to stand out than having a spokesperson, spokes-animal, or even a spokes-thing! A dog grooming company is more likely to get attention when there’s a cartoon beagle on the company truck pointing to the logo. But how do you stand out in a crowd full of mascots? And what if the mascots in this crowd are all bears? The key: customization! Get creative and dress your bear up in a big red scarf, change the color of its fur from the traditional grizzly bear brown to blue instead, or draw a nose that takes up more than one-third of its face. There are a million different ways to make your mascot unique, you just need to find one that best fits your company’s persona.

You know you have a memorable mascot when it’s difficult to hear the company or brand name without immediately picturing the mascot. Take, for example, the Pillsbury Doughboy. In a recent General Mills holiday card, Fuzzy Duck worked the Pillsbury Doughboy (AKA Poppin’ Fresh) into the context and theme of the holiday to easily give the audience a heads up as to who the card was from. Even the companies that haven’t officially given their mascots a name have succeeded in promoting them enough times that they are synonymous. For example, the majority of people know that Chicken of the Sea’s mascot is a mermaid and NOT a chicken. The more often you use your mascot, the more it will become ingrained in your customer’s mind. If you want your brand to become a household name, put your mascot in advertisements, on apparel, and point-of-purchase displays.

Appeal and Personality.

Maypo Instant Oatmeal Cereal

Maypo Instant Oat Cereal’s mascot: Marky Maypo

Ensuring that your mascot has appeal and personality does not necessarily mean that it needs to look friendly. There are plenty of appealing characters with scowling faces. Sports team mascots, for example, are often made to look tough and likely to beat the opponent. However, they are also designed in a manor that makes you feel as though you could grab a beer with them after they’re done clobbering the other team.

Mascots that have been around for 10 or 100 years have gone through a style evolution. Oftentimes, the style of the mascot reflects what was trending at the time. Many pre-1940’s characters donned crowns or top hats, canes, and even monocles because an aristocratic spokesmodel made the buyer feel that they were buying superior products. One of the most iconic, dapper mascots at this time was the Mr. Peanut, who is still widely recognized to this day. In the 1950’s and 60’s, more stylized abstract characters dominated Television (think Yogi Bear or Huckleberry Hound). From that same era, you also have the Trix Rabbit and Marky Maypo.


The original Mr. Peanut of 1917

Fast forward to today and we’re living in an Adventure Time where Queen Elsa rules and Friendship Is Magic: an era of funky, quirky characters mixed with classic Disney with a lot more 3D and high definition. When selecting a style, be in tune to what is going on around you. If you weren’t crazy about the minions from Despicable Me this doesn’t mean that your customers won’t like an energetic, blob-like creature. You wouldn’t want a style too out-of-date unless your company wants to do some kind of throwback promotion (that Yellow Submarine style worked better for the flower power generation). Sure, there are people today who adore the rubber hose “Steamboat Willie” Mickey Mouse of yesteryear because it’s retro, but today’s Mickey is more effective on a broader scope. I’m not saying that you must always follow the crowd, but if you want to grab the attention of your target audience then you must think about what styles they have been exposed to.

An appealing mascot also comes from an experienced designer. Let’s say you’ve started a business and you want your 10 year-old daughter to draw a rabbit as your spokesmodel. Yes, she may be talented for her age, and yes, she may be able to make it look like a rabbit… but how will it effect your company further down the road? Will your company be taken seriously? Will you get the attention of that target audience? An experienced character designer will not only give you a professional-looking mascot, but they are capable of drawing your mascot in a variety of different poses and facial expressions for your diverse advertising needs.

Instill Trust.

Whether you realize it or not, there is a strong bond we tend to feel with the characters we see every day. We are living in a time where non-exposure to a character (whether film or print) is rare, so we are used to this notion that a talking gecko can sell insurance. The mascot-customer connection is most evident in children. Sure, they want that cereal because it tastes good, but they also love the silly rabbit on the box that brings the brand to life. We were all kids once, and I believe that the mascot-customer connection carries on into our adulthood whether we realize it or not (we’re suckers for nostalgia).

Eagle mascot

Eagle’s Landing Day Camp Mascot

In 2012, Fuzzy Duck was given the opportunity to design a mascot for Eagle’s Landing Day Camp. The result was a friendly bald eagle who stood proudly for his camp and for the kids. Not only is the eagle a promotional symbol, but he reminds campers that they are welcome, safe, destined to make new friends, and about to create some new memories. A character who reminds homesick children that they are going to have fun at camp is sure to stick with them for a long time.

Assigning your company a mascot doesn’t bring your company down a notch, but on the contrary may even be the answer all strong business leaders ask themselves: How do we let our customers know that we’re approachable? Creating a mascot for your brand helps them relate more with your company. It’s comforting to know that a popular brand doesn’t think it’s too high & mighty to relate to it’s audience.

Click here to view more of Fuzzy Duck’s mascot collections or get in touch with us today to discuss how a mascot can benefit your brand.

Phone: 952-449-6800