Embodying brand values.
On July 19, 2000, the Los Angeles Times published “Taco Bell Replaces Chief, Chihuahua as Sales Fall”. The udemy blog points out “Some say that the mascot was instrumental in … making the dog breed mainstream in the US.”
Basically Taco Bell wasn’t selling Taco Bell, they were selling Chihuahuas!
Taco Bell made the mistake with their Chihuahua thinking “Hey, this Chihuahua is cute. If we put him in our ads people will think we’re cute.” That’s just not the way this works.
Every brand is a fictional character in the mind of the consumer. So it makes sense to have a character to communicate your company brand values. Apple did this beautifully with “I’m a Mac” “and I’m a PC.” While these characters were being cute, the more important aspect was that they embodied Apple’s values.
So what does it take to create an enduring character that actually increases you sales? The answer: Characters with clear, purposeful personalities that allow people to very easily remember and identify with the values of your brand.
The companies that are most successful are the ones that help people understand and remember one or more of the following brand elements:
Remembering the name.
In 2000, GEICO (the car Insurance Company) began using a gecko in their television commercials in an effort to help customers remember the company of a similar name. It’s the brandable chuck “15 minutes can save you 15% or more” paired with a cute likeable animal. The chunk would have worked without the animal. But the cute animal helped to remember the company name without being distracting from the company message.
Remembering the Benefits.
The Energizer Bunny was introduced on television in 1988 and has been going and going ever since. The company openly mocked the performance of other rival products such as Duracell batteries. Its commercials do a great job of positioning Energizer batteries as longer lasting. Energizer attributed 7% of its sales rise in 1992 to the pink bunny.
Remembering the product.
The Michelin Man was inspired by the sight of a pile of tires in 1894, but it wasn’t until years later that it became the brand’s worldwide ambassador. Ads focused on promoting the benefits of its products and the Michelin man was always there to save the day!
Identifying the Target audience.
The Trix rabbit has been trying to get Trix cereal for decades! It’s the same thing every time! The white rabbit disguises himself, tries to trick children into giving him a bowl of Trix cereal and is discovered: “Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!” Although each Trix cereal commercial is nearly the same in concept (plan, disguise, discover), children have embraced the playful Trix rabbit and maintained his popularity consistently for over 60 years.
You may not need a company mascot but you definitely need to know you brand positioning. When you can clearly define your company values then you may understand to importance of a mascot.
Have you clearly defined your company values? Have you communicated them to your customers?
Morty Silber, CEO
Mad Strategies Inc.
a Wizard of Ads Partner