What’s with your brand mascot?

I’ve been asked this more than a few times now, so I thought I’d better respond. The honest answer is that ‘M-Dubz’ (from ‘MW’ for Marcom Words) only happened in order to save me the bother of finding photos to illustrate blogs and posts on social media. That said, there’s some marketing reasoning too…

It’s a fact that some of the biggest brands in the world don’t just have a highly recognisable logo, they also have a brand mascot that’s well known, loved and trusted. It’s something that differentiates a product from the rest, that connects with an audience at a subconscious level, prompting memories and positive reactions.

To be even more honest, it was actually my Lego-loving 11-year-old son who designed M-Dubz for me. The brief was simple: ‘Use my logo colours and make it look like Dad’. I was presented with a selection of light and dark blue clothing and half a dozen faces and hairstyles to choose from. After commissioning the guys at www.minifigs.me to add the logo, M-Dubz was born.

Inadvertently perhaps, but I’d like to say that it actually does what a brand mascot should do, in that it personifies Marcom Words’ desired brand attributes: the colour blue (trust, dependability…); the grey hair and glasses (experience, expertise…); raised eyebrows and broad smile (accessible, friendly…); it’s Lego (creative, playful…).

I’ve come to call it my ‘alter Lego’, rather than alter ego, though apparently a pun too far for my son. But there’s an important point here relating to consumer brand mascots, in that many of us find it much easier to engage with such cute brand spokes-characters than they do with more formal corporate spokes-people. Even the most egotistical would find it hard not to agree.

The biggest consumer brand mascots such as Kelloggs’ Cornelius rooster, KFC’s Colonel Sanders, the Pilsbury Dough boy etc. hail from the middle of the 20th century, the Michelin man even goes back to the 19th century – they have longevity on their side. Yes, they’ve all evolved over time, but they’ve always stayed true to the brand’s core identity.

Denmark’s Lego of course has this too, with the first mini figures appearing in the 1970’s. Forty years on and they’re more popular than ever. So I’m hopefully backing a safe bet, Lego mini figures will be around in one form or another for a long time yet, and a lot longer than me sans doute.

And unlike human ‘celebrities’, brand mascots can always be trusted to stay ‘on-message’. What’s that old adage? That they don’t get into trouble with the law, they don’t demand increasingly extortionate fees and they don’t dramatically age either…

Brand mascots have I believe an even more important role to play today on social media than they did on broadcast TV in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. The internet and social media is about connecting one-to-one and it’s enabling businesses to create far richer characters and story-lines far more cost effectively and efficiently than they ever did before.

For a comparatively limited investment, brand mascots are being used to drive today’s social media conversations, and they’re still increasing good old-fashioned brand recall at the same time. It’s a valuable brand asset. So why not?

M-Dubz has so far removed the headache of illustrating blogs and other stuff in a consistent fashion, solved the annual Christmas card design challenge and appeared in his first amateur animated production.

A bit of fun yes, designed to raise a smile indeed, but it’s brought a lot more creative freedom, some seriously interesting discussions with new and existing clients, not to mention this article. Quite a useful side project as it turns out.

I don’t see many other marketing copywriters in the UK with a brand mascot, so I’ll have one, just to be a little more different from the other few thousand – at least that is until I get bored or become aware of it losing me business 😉

PS. And why go to my son for help in creating my brand mascot? The answer will be clear from the link below. Aged 8 he produced a stop motion animation recounting my grandfather Ron’s life during World War 2. It’s now running on interactive terminals at the Sharpshooters’ regimental museum at Hever Castle in Kent. Enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KISvGN7TnVA