How to Create a Mascot For a Company or Personal Brand. Step-by-step Guide

How to Create a Mascot for Your Brand

  1. Choose the right character

    Humans, animals or objects – there are several factors you need to consider to choose the right mascot for you.

  2. Create the personality of your character

    There are several simple questions to follow to build the personality of you character.

  3. Plan a Visual Content Marketing Strategy

    Outline how and where you are going to use your character will help you to plan your budget better.

  4. Plan Poses, Emotions, Outfits and Scenes

    Your character working on the computer, or talking on the phone – frame what variations of your mascot you will need.

  5. Design the character

A brand mascot can help you spread the word about your business. But a wrong character can confuse your customers or even harm your brand.

So it’s crucial to choose the right character for your business, and the design process is the last thing you should think about. There’s a lot of work to be done before you grab the pen to sketch your character.

This could be a really long process. There are a lot of decisions to be made. Often when customers approach me they have an idea what character they need, but it gets confusing when they realize that choosing the character is just the beginning. That’s why I’ve created this guide to make your decisions easier.

Before we dive in, let’s first answer the basic question “What exactly is a brand mascot?”.

What is a Brand Mascot?

A brand character, also known as a mascot, brand spokesperson or avatar, serves as an ambassador of your company. The character can be used as a part of the company’s logo or separately in various digital and print marketing materials.

Creating a character for a brand requires well-planned branding and content marketing strategies. Let’s see what are the essential steps to create a successful mascot for your brand.

Step 1: Choose The Right Character

We can differentiate 3 types of characters: human characters, animals and object characters.

Human Characters

KFC logo with Colonel Sanders

The human character can represent a real person, like Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC.

Mr Clean Mascot

The mascot can be a fictional character, a superhero, like Mr. Clean.

Animal Characters

Animals are widely used as mascots. Some brands use a specific animal because of the direct relationship between the animal and the product (such as cow and milk).

The Laughing Cow

A good example is The Laughing Cow, the mascot of the Fromageries Bel’s cheese products.

While others choose an animal because of their archetypical characteristics (e.g. the cat is graceful, the dog is playful and loyal).

Duracell Bunny

One of the things that characterize rabbits is that they run fast. That’s why Duracell chose a bunny for a mascot.

Object Characters

Object characters can be divided into two groups.

Michelin Man

In the first group, the object is used to build the body of the character, as the Michelin Man built out of tires.


M&M's spokescandies

In the second group, the object is brought to life itself like the M&M’s Spokescandies.

How to choose the right type of character

There are tons of variables that you should take into account when you choose your mascot. Is it a company or a personal brand? What industry? What kind of service or product?

That’s why I’ve created a decision chart for finding the type of character that best fit your business. If you want more information about the different types of characters, check out my blog post on How to Choose the Right Type of Character for Your Brand.

Choose MAscot Type for Your Brand Decision Tree

Keep in mind, though, these guidelines are just to make your decision easier, but it doesn’t mean that you should follow them blindly. There are a lot of famous characters that follow none of these rules. The brightest examples are Aleksandr Orlov and Geico Gecko.

Aleksandr Orlov
Aleksandr Orlov
Geico Gecko mascot
Geico Gecko

However, if you are planning to break the rules, you should know two things.

First, you’ll need to put more effort into developing the character and promoting it to the audience. Because your clients will need more information to understand your character and why you use it.

Secondly, it would be a good idea to think about making the story of your character deeper. Let’s take as an example Aleksandr Orlov. There is a whole meerkats’ world, where Aleksandr lives in. He has a lot of friends, they live in a town called Meerkovo and each character has a job and a well-defined personality.

Speaking of personality, let’s talk about how to build the personality of your character.

Step 2: Think about the Personality of Your Character

Mascots are much more than a speechless design standing next to your logo. In the digital world, a brand spokesperson comes to life and can communicate directly with your audience. That’s why it’s worth spending some time to create the personality of your mascot.

Creating a personality isn’t a trivial task, but let’s try to simplify it. In general, most of the work is based on choosing between different archetypes. There are several questions that can help you shape the mascot’s personality.

The first question you should ask yourself is what role you are going to give to your character in the company. I’m not talking about a job title, but the position in which the character will communicate with your audience.

Your mascot could be either a teacher, who teaches your audience about your niche or a student, who studies about the niche along with your prospects. Let’s see the difference between these two archetypes.

1. Student or Teacher?

The teacher is experienced and teaches people about the niche and your services. You can use your character as a teacher in your blog and even write the content like it’s written by the character.

The second option is to make your character a student. This means that your mascot is a novice in the niche and he or she will learn about it along with your audience. For instance, you can add questions or comments like they are asked by your character to make your content more conversational.

Maurits The Martian Profile Pic

Maurits’ comment:

I’ve noticed that humans love when someone else is asking the “stupid” questions so I’d pick the student type.

2. Sweet, Funny or Sarcastic

This applies to both the teacher and the student archetypes.

Your character can be the sweet one – benevolent and patient. He or she could be the funny one, the entertainer. Or you could make those jokes rougher and transform them into sarcasm. The last one is tricky. You should be very careful. You can easily cross the line and make the jokes offensive.

A great example of a sarcastic mascot is Wendy. She’s not afraid to roast the competition.

Wendy's roasting McDonald's

These categories, however, are not mutually exclusive. You can mix them to make your character more nuanced and unpredictable. But keep in mind that your character’s behavior should stay consistent.

If your character is an animal or an object, then there is a third personality factor we should discuss – what human traits are you going to attribute to your character.

3. Human and animal traits

When we create animal or object characters, we make them in some way look and act like humans – they wear clothes, they can speak. The term for this is anthropomorphism – attributing human traits to non-human subjects.

When you are creating your character you should decide how you will mix the human and the animal/object traits.

Let’s take as an example the M&M’s Spokescandies. They can speak, watch movies, etc. So they are almost like humans, but they still preserve one of their object traits – they are still candies, and people still want to eat them…

M&M's Eating In Bed
M&M’s “Eating In Bed” commercial

Do you remember the M&M’s commercial “Eating in bed”? In the video, a horrified woman is caught “cheating” by her husband. However, as it turns out, she is in the bed with the M&M’s Red character who doesn’t even suspect that he is going to be eaten.

Mixing human and animal/object traits makes your character more specific, interesting and memorable. Also, you can put them in different funny situations related to your niche.

Maurits The Martian Profile Pic

Maurits’ comment:

Holly Martians! So happy that humans don’t see aliens as food…

There are thousands of other factors that you can consider regarding the personality and the behavior of your character. But these three questions that we’ve discussed are more than enough as a start. You can build-up and evolve the personality of your character on the go, when you are putting them in different situations.

Enough for the personality. It’s time to plan how we are going to use our character.

Step 3: Plan Visual and Content Marketing Strategy

You don’t need to plan the whole strategy before designing your character. But I advise you to create a rough visual and content plan in advance. This will help you clarify exactly what you need and plan your budget better.

Before jumping to the different content types, we need to back your character up with a story.

1. Think about the Story of Your Character

At this point, it might look like an unnecessary step to think about the story, but such a story can help you out with the content plan and it will give you a lot of creative content ideas.

You don’t need to have a full diary of your character’s life. You just need a few pinpoints to start building your character’s adventures.

Let’s take as an example our mascot Maurits The Martian.

Maurits The Martian Profile Pic

The Story of Maurits The Martian

Maurits is from Mars. He travels through space with his friend Vizy to learn the marketing strategies of other planets and conquer their markets. The Earth is next… But the task appears to be much harder than they expected!


Based on this short story about Maurits, I’ve created the comic series If Digital Marketing Was An Alien Invasion.

Maurits the Martian Comics, Digital marketing and GDPR

Now let’s talk about content. How can you use your character?

2. Using the Character on Your Website

The first stop is your website. You can use your character in the theme images on your website. But be careful with the service pages. People don’t like when someone is trying to sell them something, right? So don’t make your character a salesman of your product.

One very good place where you can use your character is your blog.

3. Using Your Character in Blog Posts

The best way to use your character is to let him/her provide your audience with valuable information. Also, using custom illustrations involving your character can make your blog posts more interesting and look more polished. A great example is BuzzSumo’s blog.

BuzzSumo Blog Illustrations
BuzzSumo.com Blog Illustrations

Nevertheless, it could be expensive to have custom illustrations on every post. That’s why I have a trick for you.

If you dig deeper into the BuzzSumo’s blog you’ll find that they reuse many of the illustrations. For instance, for posts about statistics, they use several main illustrations and change some things like colors and backgrounds.

So what you can do if you are on a budget:

Based on the categories and the content you are creating, plan several poses and actions of your character. You can later put them on different images and backgrounds.

Another place where you should definitely use your character is social media.

4. Mascots and Social Media

Similar to using your character in blog posts, in social media you can also plan in advance several categories of content.

In addition, you can create several illustrations for later use in ads and banners promoting your products.

Here is an idea from The Geico Gecko. They’ve created a rubric “Geico Thoughts”, where the famous lizard shares his thoughts with the audience. It’s fun and engaging, and yet, easy and fast to create as visual content.

Geico Gecko Social Media
Geico Gecko Mascot Social Media

5. Mascots and Video Content

Talking about video and cartoon characters the first thing that crosses your mind is animation, right? So, should you animate your character if you have a YouTube channel?

Animating your character

If you are planning to animate your character, you should consider two things and discuss them with your designer.

First of all, simpler characters are easier to animate. If your character is more complex and realistic, the animation can be extremely expensive.

Secondly, the character should be built in a way that allows movement. This means that the body of the character should have joints.

Nevertheless, it’s not necessary to animate your character to make your YouTube channel eye-catching. Here are several ways you can use your character.

Ways to use your mascot on YouTube

You can use your character as a profile image, as a cover image of the channel, in the video thumbnails, in the intro and in the video content itself.

Here is a great example of how to make your channel look impressive with a mascot. Meet Jazza. He is an illustrator and his YouTube channel Draw with Jazza currently has 3.8 Million subscribers. Jazza uses a mascot avatar of himself.

Jazza's avatar, Draw with Jazza
YouTube channel using mascot, Draw with Jazza

So how does Jazza use his mascot?

  • Profile picture
  • Cover Image
  • Video thumbnails
  • Video intro
  • At the bottom right corner (as a logo) in the main video content

The only animation that Jazza uses is in the intro. He has, however, various emotions and positions of his character which he uses as part of the video thumbnails.

Using the character on the thumbnails will make your thumbnails more recognizable when people scroll through their feed.

The next step of your mascot design plan is to choose several poses and actions of your character that you will use for blog post illustrations, social media visuals or video thumbnails.

Step 4: Choose Poses, Emotions, Outfits and Scenes

Knowing how you want to use your mascot will help you decide how many poses and actions you need, such as talking on the phone, working on a computer, or something else specific to your niche.

Emotions

Let’s see the main emotions your mascot can express.

Positive:

  • Happy, Smile (used as default state)
  • Very happy, Large smile
  • Laughing
  • Surprised
  • Amused
  • Pride in achievement
  • Relief

Negative:

  • Sad
  • Scared
  • Disgusted
  • Angry
  • Confused
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Embarassed

How to decide what emotions you will need?

We want to optimize things, right? We don’t want to buy things that we’ll never use. So when you think about emotions you should think about the content that will be created and exactly what you will need.

Also, think about the personality that you created for your character, what emotions would suit your character? Let’s say you have a superhero mascot, then making him/her cry wouldn’t fit their character whatever the situation is.

Poses and Actions

The poses and the actions also depend on the character and the context you are going to use it for. Here are some ideas.

General:

  • Waving
  • Thumbs up
  • Holding something

Professional:

  • Talking on the phone
  • Working on a computer
  • Going to work (holding a briefcase)
  • Pointing to a flipchart/ tablet/ laptop
  • Holding a sign or a paper you can write on

Also, you can come up with ideas from your specific niche.

Outfits

It’s not necessary to change the outfit of your character. However, changing the outfit will allow you to put it in various contexts and so make your character look more alive.

Maurits The Martian Outfits for Mascots
Maurits The Martian, different outfits

Scenes

Finally, you will want to put your character in various scenes. Your character become more real and alive when you place him/her in a scene.

The scenes could be related to the story of your character, your niche or generic ones, like sending your character on a summer vacation.

Blog Post Illustration Example


So far we’ve considered the personality of the mascot, we’ve planed our visual content and now it’s finally time to discuss the actual design process.

Step 5: Design the Character

It’s time to step into the visual part of the process. You can either hire a designer/ agency to design your character or you can draw it yourself. Since that’s not a “how to draw tutorial”, I’ll give you 2 important points to consider before hiring a designer.

Trademarks

If you are planning to use your character as part of the brand, at some point you will probably want to get a trademark. If this is your plan it’s important to discuss it with the designer. The character should be created from scratch with no pre-made elements and it should be distinctive enough.

However, even if you decide to trademark your character, you will trademark only the main character design. For instance, the one you use as part of your logo. Which means that all other additional elements like accessories (phone, laptop, tablet, etc…) and backgrounds don’t need to be absolutely original. So this is also something worth considering if you want to reduce the costs.

Raster or Vector Characters

Whether you are hiring a designer or creating the character yourself, you’ll need some basic knowledge about graphic design and illustration to figure out exactly what you need. The most important thing you should know is whether you need a raster or vector character. Let’s summarize those two types of graphics.

Raster vs. Vector Graphics

Raster Images

Raster images, like photographs, consist of a grid of pixels (squares). Every pixel encodes specific color.

Vector Images

Instead of pixels, vector graphics are based on mathematically defined simple geometric shapes.

Since vector graphics are made of mathematically defined shapes, they can be scaled infinitely, however much you want. Also, the shapes they are built from can be moved and manipulated, which means that you can select and move or change objects from the image. These two advantages make vector graphics especially suitable for brand characters.

First of all, once you have your character you can easily resize it according to your needs. Secondly, you can change details like colors, change the position of the hands or make your character hold an object. In this case, if you have a raster image instead of vector, the image has to be redrawn entirely. You will also need a vector image of your character if you are planning to create video animations with your mascot.

The downside of vector graphics, though, is that they are more expensive than raster images because they require specific skills and more time to be created.

Conclusion

A mascot will make your brand more personable, engaging and eye-catching. However, in order to be successful, you should choose the right mascot, develop the character and make it part of your content marketing strategy.

I know that there are a lot of steps here, that’s why I’ve created a checklist for you. Grab your checklist and create your own brand character!


Comments (4)

I would like to thank you for this valuable information, it helps me a lot to create my character.

Thanks

I’m glad you find it helpful! Have you come across any other issues or questions that are not mentioned here while creating your character?

Great content. Thank you for sharing.

Thank you! Glad you liked it!

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