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How to Design a Character for Your Brand

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How to Design a Character for Your Brand


Have you ever searched stock image websites and thought, None of these truly represent my brand?

It can be difficult to stand out using the same cheesy images as everyone else, but creating a unique brand character can help distance you from the pack.

A brand character, or mascot, is the visual representation and ambassador of your brand. They can be an illustration, inanimate object, a person, animal or any other character of your choosing.

This is different from brand personality, which refers to the emotional and behavior characteristics attributed to your brand that help you resonate with customers.

Below we’ll explore the benefits of using a brand character and how to create your own.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Brand Character

Brand characters can fulfill a variety of uses for your company. Here are some advantages of using them:

  • Improve communication: Images can often convey feelings and communicate messages to your audience more quickly and efficiently than words. Some even aim to build an emotional connection with the viewer. It’s a popular strategy for marketing products to children like cereals and toys.
  • Brand Recognition: Some characters are so ingrained in popular culture that they become inseparable from the brand, like Ronald McDonald or the M&M Spokescandies. Customers will be able to identify your product or service without the brand ever being mentioned.
  • Viral marketing potential: If your brand character is catchy and compelling, there’s a chance it could take off on social media. Take Kroger’s Krojis characters, which spawned several memes and parody videos shortly after their launch.

The original commercial (pictured above) used Flo Rida’s song “Low” to advertise their “Lower Than Low” campaign. Soon people were making their own versions, like this one.

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However, using a brand character may not be the best choice for every business. Here are some disadvantages:

  • May not be a good fit for your business model: For some products like fitness equipment, makeup, or any product that is aimed at altering the customer’s physical appearance, using a brand character is less effective. Customers will want to see a real person in advertising materials as proof that it works.
  • Brand disconnect: While good brand characters can help customers recognize your brand, a bad one can have the opposite effect. The character may be recognizable, but customers have no idea what your company does. In the worst case scenario, the character could be inflammatory, or not age well like the recent rebranding of Aunt Jemima pancake products.
  • Could be expensive: If you’re not creating the brand logo in-house, hiring an outside designer or agency can be cost prohibitive, especially if your business is just starting out.

Once you’ve decided having a brand character will be beneficial, you can get started on the fun part — creating your own.

Creating a Brand Character of Your Own

Henneke Duistermaat, writer and creator of Enchanting Marketing, found it easiest to reflect her true brand image, connect with her audience, and make her business memorable by hand-drawing her brand character, Henrietta. Henrietta is a cartoon character who embodies Enchanting Marketing better than any stock photo could.

Take a look at the infographic below, featuring Henneke’s “alter ego” Henrietta, to find inspiration to create drawings for your business that will captivate and engage your audience.

henneke infographic Enchanting Marketing

While you may not opt to draw your own character like Henneke, you can adopt some of her thought process when creating your own. Think about:

  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • How does that problem make your customers feel?
  • What solution do you offer?
  • What attributes do you want the character to convey?
  • Where will you use this character? On the physical product, website design, or customer service chat box?
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Brand Character Examples

Brand characters are not a one-size-fits-all marketing tool. You can choose cartoon characters like Henneke, anthropomorphized animals or objects, or even fictional people. If you’re stumped on where to start, we’ve pulled a variety of brand characters to get your creativity flowing.

1. Flo from Progressive

Flo Progressive brand characterFlo is a great example of how effective a fictional person can be as a brand character. She’s highly recognizable and always communicates the perks of using Progressive over other insurance companies. Flo has more than 68,000 followers on Twitter, demonstrating the character’s reach beyond traditional commercials.

2. GEICO’s Gecko

GEICO gecko brand characterNot to be left out, fellow insurance company GEICO’s quirky gecko character also has a following of their own. Is he Australian or British? No one knows for sure, but we do know we can save on car insurance by switching to GEICO because this gecko brand character is incredibly good at what he does. To play up the character’s popularity, GEICO even facilitates Q&As with him via social media, getting the public to engage with the brand in a fun way.

3. Reddit’s Snoo

Reddit brand characterReddit’s Snoo alien character can be found throughout its website and even has its own thread. The genderless and colorless alien has come to not only represent the company, but also its target audience: everyone. Reddit appeals to everyone and serves as a forum where users from any background can share news, their hobbies, other types of content, and host discussions on just about any topic. It’s the internet’s hub for “everyday people” (plus aliens of course), and Snoo reflects that.

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4. Twitter’s Larry the Bird

 

Twitter  brand character

 

It seems fitting that a site named Twitter would choose a bird for its brand character. Larry the Bird was named after basketball great Larry Bird, as co-founder Biz Stone is a Celtics fan. While small, this little blue bird is synonymous with Twitter without having to see the brand name spelled out.

It’s versatile and used on not only website branding, but seamlessly tucked into the corner of every individual’s tweet. It’s ubiquitous but not obtrusive.

Including a Brand Character in Your Marketing Plan

Including a brand character into your marketing materials should be based on both market research and your target audience’s needs. They are meant to enhance the user experience and simplify communication between the brand and its customers.

This article was originally published August 17, 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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MARKETING

3 Principles of “Post Digital” Marketing with Ryan Deiss [VIDEO]

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3 Principles of "Post Digital" Marketing with Ryan Deiss [VIDEO]


When it comes to digital marketing what do you need to OWN to make sure your business thrives in this post-digital world?

WHAT IS DIGITALMARKETER:

DigitalMarketer is the premier online community for digital marketing professionals. It’s a place where you can learn how to market like a pro, connect with industry experts, and get the strategies and tools you need to grow and scale your business to new heights.

https://www.digitalmarketer.com/



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MARKETING

The Quick & Easy Guide To Freezing Rows in Excel

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The Quick & Easy Guide To Freezing Rows in Excel


Without freezing rows or columns in your Excel spreadsheet, everything moves when you scroll through the page, as shown in the gif below.

(more…)

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MARKETING

Good morning: Go for gold

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Good morning: Go for gold


Good morning, Marketers, and go for the gold.

When it comes to customer journeys, the gold we’re talking about is golden milestones. This was one of the many key concepts expanded on at our last MarTech conference. They’re the most important parts of the journey that marketers build around to make experience valuable and relevant.

As these journeys continue to transform – just look at how events have shifted to hybrid and virtual experiences in the last two years – it’s worth reevaluating what those milestones are. If you’re a retailer, the milestone might have been to get a customer into the store to ask about a new product or sale item. In a transition to e-commerce, the journey has changed and free delivery could be the golden ticket.

Looking at the data and feedback from customers along their journeys is the best way to measure these changing values.

Chris Wood,

Editor

Shorts (Optional)

“B2B doesn’t mean boring-to-boring. Learn how to bring a little spice to your marketing in 2022. After all, you’re selling to people – not robots.” Ali Schwanke, CEO and Founder, Simple Strat


About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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