Mickey Mouse, the beloved cartoon character, was created in 1928 by Walt Disney and despite the company’s many characters, Mickey reigns supreme as the mascot of the company. He is an anthropomorphic mouse who is usually seen wearing red shorts, large yellow shoes, and white gloves. Close to a century has passed since he was created and he remains one of the world’s most recognisable fictional characters. And let’s face it, he looks nothing like a real mouse. But for some reason, our brain still seems to see him as one.
A mascot is any human, animal or object thought to both bring luck as well as used to represent a group with a common identity. From schools to sports teams, from political to military insignia, from big brand names to non-profit institutions–people from all walks of life use them to identify themselves and their affiliations. Mascots can even function as representative spokespeople for consumer products.
The word ‘mascot’ originates from the French term mascotte which means lucky charm. But how do you identify the mascot that is right for you and your organisation? With so many options out there in the marketplace and in the storehouse of your imagination; which mascot should you decide upon to represent your brand?
Designed right, a mascot can help your organisation reach new heights. It also makes your brand instantly recognisable. The Moving Picture Company (MPC) conducted a research on the effectiveness of advertising with characters. Their study found that brands which use mascots or special characters in their campaigns observe nearly 41% increase in their profits. The improved emotional connection they make with their audiences is one main reason for this improvement.
While mascots, insignia and symbols have changed over time, their role as a form of identification for a group identity hasn’t. For instance, the insignia of the papacy includes the image of two Crossed Keys, one gold and one silver, bound with a red cord. It is a rather complex and classical insignia which dates back to the 15th century. It symbolises the keys given to Peter the Apostle by Jesus Christ.
A mascot, however, is different to a logo or an insignia. Unlike a logo, a mascot communicates the value and culture of the organisation to its patrons. For the purpose of cohesion, some organisations may use the same colours or shapes across the board. A mascot of a business or an organisation can allow the institution to establish a personal connection with their patrons, thereby increasing trust and recognition.
A mascot is like a brand ambassador. Even if it is an imaginary one.
Unlike designing logos, a mascot requires an artist who can be extremely creative to come up with, not only the character itself, but a story that the character embarks upon. While mascots do tend to be fictional or even mythological in nature, what they do is appeal to our imagination and speak to our hearts.