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Creating A Company Mascot - Update
11/8/2012 at 1:28 PM ET
A few weeks ago I posted a question about the value of creating a company mascot in the B2B environment. I appreciate all the feedback I received.
Specifically, we are an HR Outsourcing firm, selling a complex human resources service to SMBs. My marketing goal is to lighten up our image and brand, to become more approachable, and differentiate ourselves from the competition.
is our current 'brand' (not much there, I know...).
Taking many of your suggestions, I created a draft mascot, Hayley, our HR Hero. You can view her here:
While my company is all in favor of a mascot, she was greeted with mixed results. If election-day was today, she would lose. (it was tested internally only, not with clients). Primary objection was not to use a person, or woman.
Firstly - what are your thoughts? Should I proceed with an external client survey?
Secondly, I am reaching out for new and creative ideas for a company mascot to represent the follow concepts:
-Reliable [we process payroll, manage HR compliance]
-Trustworthy [clients entrust us with insurance, taxes, etc.]
-Experienced [need to know the laws, make the right decisions]
-Personable [customize solutions, hands-on service delivery]
Can you suggest any animals, creatures, (or even objects ??) that could work? I'm thinking an owl, but that seems very cliche.
Would love your thoughts! Thank you.
11/8/2012 at 1:45 PM
She doesn't have a "lighten up" face expression, not sure about the mask and the "E" in CPE could be a "B".
Hope this helps
11/8/2012 at 1:53 PM
Your link needs to be re-embedded.
Unless it's part of an existing and well-recognized brand (such as GIECO's gecko) avoid critters as mascots and instead, consider a human spokesman or spokeswoman.
As for a single mascot representing 4 areas of company expertise, 4 benefit areas is too many pieces of information for potential clients to associate with a specific critter, trait, and quality.
One benefit-rich quality or trait + one related or personificational critter = one powerful message.
Four variable qualities or traits + one multiple personality critter = brand confusion.
Single (powerful) messages attract and command attention.
Multiple (and therefore, weaker) messages require greater neural associative power, which makes them harder to recall.
Unless of course you decide to go for a critter per quality or trait (think of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or the Banana Splits, or The Avengers).
With just one critter or icon your marque must (and can more easily) COMMAND attention and DEMAND recollection.
That which is difficult or complex to recall is less likely
to command share of mind.
11/8/2012 at 1:54 PM
From an internal perspective, what didn't they like? The concept of a mascot? The imagery? The gender? The superhero look? The mascot's "backstory"?
Before you go outside the company, ensure that you have buy-in internally.
11/8/2012 at 2:02 PM
Maybe Gary is right about critters...
But, how about a Saint Bernard? And, have a contest to name it, either internally, externally or both.
To me, a Saint Bernard helps people like you do, and if you get the right illustration, it could look cuddly or personable.
I think it would represent your 4 characteristics. Not that you can apply all 4 to the mascot, but to me, it puts me in mind of those types of things.
Just a thought.
11/8/2012 at 2:12 PM
There's a saying I heard from an old marketing professor, "if you like your own advertising, it's probably not any good" The reason this is that you create advertising for your customers not for yourself.
It is important that you get feedback from your clients before you roll your nascot out to the general public. You may want to share what your internal folks provided with your external clients and compare and contrast the responses. I would give more weight to customer feedback, especially if they are your largest or most profitable customers.
11/8/2012 at 2:51 PM
Thanks for the quick responses.
Gary: 3 of the 4 qualities are quite similar (reliable, trustworthy, experienced). I think if we focus on those, the mascot will resonate a single message. Any creative juices on what it could be??
Jay: good question. Feedback was fuzzy. I'll have to probe deeper. What are your thoughts on our Supergirl?
Kathleen: Interesting idea. Thanks. Will have to see how it looks on paper.
11/8/2012 at 4:24 PM
Ironically, my first thought was, why a woman? I don't like shoehorning a profession unless it's a man as an NFL player.
Next, I thought that this icon doesn't represent anything except a person who looks super business-like. Then again, neither did the Progressive Insurance woman and she's quite a hit (but not with me -- but she's RECOGNIZABLE, which is key to audiences).
Whether it's Progressive or your business, I want to know the service is reliable. Only your company's performance can prove that.
Are you ready to stand behind the SUPER image? If so, and your introduction won't cost much in budget except for development, try it. As you and others said above, your clients will tell you if it reflects what your company is all about.
11/8/2012 at 5:50 PM
As I said last time, the mascot won't be the key element of a re-positioning effort. It will need to be everything on the site ... the tone and manner of all your communication materials and interactions. If you get those right, the mascot may not be necessary at all, or it won't "stand alone" as the symbol of company attributes.
My personal reaction to the image you've shown is that it doesn't lighten things up very much, and it could suggest a frivolous (or cartoon-like) attitude toward some serious business.
I did think of a company that has done a good job of communicating a light/fun attitude AND using a mascot for a serious service -- Emma (
). They do a superb job of communicating "attitude" in all communication and in live support/contact, so the mascot is just icing on the cake.
11/9/2012 at 6:37 AM
I like her, but without the mask. Masks are for people that are hiding something.
I initially didn't want a person, but I think she's perfect. And I like how you made her professional and not comic bookish. I think she lightens, but not unprofessionally the business you are in. I like the wording of your website just as it is. It is serious business, but complex and when I've had to deal with it, I wished there was someone who'd walk me thru it in a cape.
I would also like to hear the feedback. Poll them and don't let them get fuzzy. Name 3 things you like about Haley and 3 you don't. In retrospect had you done that at the meeting, they may have discovered there was nothing not to like and accepted her.
11/9/2012 at 7:43 AM
Perhaps some one/group like the Raging Grannies or a kinder version of Clara Pellar; from where's the beef fame...also personifies your HR goals..
11/17/2012 at 11:12 PM
The problem with Hayley is, she's not good enough to be a corporate image. She's cold, and though she's got a cape, she's not doing anything notable or valuable. The mask is a negative signal, and the image looks like a stock pic. In the end, Hayley doesn't offer enough here to rescue herself, and if I were directing you, I'd ask you to start over.
Very sorry to blurt it out like that.
With a key element of your brand on the line, I really want to advise you to get a professional illustrator who understands branding, tell him/her your desired outcome ("We want our potential customers to understand 'X' about us."), and let the professional come up with the image ... rather than seeking validation for this one.
Also, let the illustrator interview others in your company so their understanding of your company's needs comes from more than a single view.
This won't cost as much as you might fear, and the result will be much stronger. Your principal objective -- getting a mascot to lighten the company image -- will stand up, and you'll get more buy-in from your colleagues and, importantly, your customers.
Bottom line, you'll be better served by a mascot that attracts people to your brand and draws them in, not one that merely gets a majority vote in the office.
Goes without saying this is all easier said than done. :)
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