Mascot, Spokesperson, or Theme? How to Bring your Marketing Stories to Life

Marketers tell stories to differentiate their brands from the competition, increase audience engagement, and to bring the brand to life. Since humans are emotional beings, consumers will, most likely, eat up a good brand story. Facts and figures will gain the consumer’s trust, but an entertaining story that moves the consumer to care about the brand leads to trust in addition to loyalty.

Read Related: How Marketers Can Tell Better Stories to Captivate Target Audiences

How do marketers bring brands “to life?” By creating captivating, engaging, and relatable stories with ea brand:

  • Mascot - The brand has a likeable fictional character in marketing materials to speak to the consumer in the brand’s voice.

  • Spokesperson - The brand hires a noteworthy celebrity to appear in marketing materials to endorse the brand and influence the target audience.

  • Theme - The brand associates itself with a lifestyle that represents the brand and the consumer’s wants.

Mascot

Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes aren’t just great, they are “GR-R-REAT.” The silly, athletic tiger with the red bandanna was created by Kellogg’s to relate to kids and get them excited about cereal. And it worked. Introduced in 1951, Tony the Tiger has represented the brand for decades.

A mascot like Tony the Tiger benefits a brand by providing a long-lasting, memorable figure that audiences can connect with and recognize across media channels.

When creating a mascot:

  1. Keep the brand’s target audience and their preferences in mind.

    1. Is the audience made up of kids eating sweet cereals? Coco, the Trix Rabbit, or Toucan Sam are colorful and kid-friendly animals that make breakfast fun.

    2. Is the audience made up of adults who need insurance? Insurance is not an easy subject to discuss. Allstate, GEICO, and Progressive manage to engage their audience by using subtle humor in their ads with quirky characters like Mayhem, Gecko, and Flo.

  2. Make sure the mascot personifies the brand’s voice (link) and values (link).

    1. Create a personality profile including quirks and habits of the mascot that makes them uniquely identifiable.

Mascots are universal. They are consistent with the brand and less likely to upset or offend consumers, since they are created and controlled by the marketer. They don’t get involved in scandals and their only agenda is to represent the brand, making them an affordable and easy extension of the brand.

 The Aflac duck is one of the most followed brand mascots on Twitter, clearly showing an effective brand marketing strategy. 

Mascots can also be used to speak directly to the consumer and empower them.  The “Brawny Man” is a strong spirit designed to encourage consumers to overcome challenges. Brawny’s recent campaign “Strength has no gender” made the Brawny Man a woman to highlight that strength can come from anyone.

A mascot, whether for a sports team or a cereal character, can create community, brand loyalty, and pride. They create an emotional attachment or feeling worth sharing about. Although these characters are fictional, plenty of them like Flo (link) and the Aflac duck (link) have strong social media presences that lead to shared content.

This list of mascots dates back to the Quaker Oats Man in 1877 - recognize any?

Spokesperson

 Michael Jordan's relationship with Nike as their spokesperson has influenced a significant amount of consumers and has earned the brand billions of dollars. 

A spokesperson for a brand is usually a celebrity, athlete, or respected expert. Consider Michael Jordan and his relationship with Nike which has earned the brand billions of dollars. The spokesperson’s job is to gain the trust of the audience, increase traffic and media buzz about the brand, and inform and influence the consumer.

Using a well-known figure can increase the brand’s publicity. Social influencers, according to Digiday, cost less and create authentic, impressionable relationships with the audience that lead to brand advocates.

What should brands look for in a spokesperson?

  1. Recognizable Person with a Positive Image

  2. Unique Personality

  3. Long term Commitment and Consistent Behavior

How the spokesperson behaves reflects the brand’s image. Brands like Subway have to reposition themselves on the account of reckless and unforeseen actions of their spokespeople. Take caution when putting the brand’s reputation on the line for a familiar and influential face.

When the spokesperson is trustworthy, they have the potential to increase sales by 4%. A credible and admirable person endorsing a brand humanizes (link) and authenticates the brand. They can also interact with followers physically or on social media - bringing the experience to life even more.

Theme

Theme based marketing is what the consumer remembers about the brand - it is the feeling the brand gives the consumer. A theme is a long-term marketing campaign that resonates with the audience and represents the brand’s overall message.

How does a brand formulate a marketing theme? Research.

Observe, study, and survey consumers to pinpoint what matters to them. Use analytics to track their behavior and study their preferences and then cross reference any information with current trends.

This research informs the theme that lets the consumer know that the brand understands their struggles and will be a guiding, trusting force to help the consumer overcome their challenges. Dove, for example, emphasizes for women to see their self-worth, inner beauty, or beautiful self. This sets them apart from other feminine products that focus solely on outward beauty and appearances.

A theme is a lifestyle.

Coca-Cola and Red Bull use powerful and uplifting themes where the consumer is at the heart of their story. Red Bull encourages people to be brave and daring and Coca-Cola usually advertises love and togetherness. The product is merely a component of the scene but not center stage.

Patagonia is a brand that weaves sustainability into their brand story. When a consumer buys Patagonia, they know they are getting quality equipment and giving to a brand that actively supports the environment. Patagonia emphasizes that they would rather consumers restore items instead of purchasing new ones. The brand is not trying to persuade the consumer to purchase more, which creates an honest and trusting relationship with their customers.

Read Related: Marketing Experts share Storytelling Tips for Brands

A brand mascot, spokesperson, or theme helps a brand tell a more meaningful story that can be used across all media - social media, print, or TV spots. By personifying and bringing the brand to life, a brand’s content resonates better with the consumer and increases brand awareness and engagement.

Whichever method you choose for your brand, be sure to be original so that you can be memorable.