Many small businesses have plain, nondescript logos, and have built plain, nondescript brands. They blend in with the crowd, with dull-looking stationery, print ads, uniforms, vehicle wraps and more.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Building a big brand with characters or mascots can make a big difference for small businesses. First impressions count, and a small business mascot is likely the first thing that an audience encounters with a company. It’s the foundation of a company’s brand, and one of its most important assets.

Why a Mascot for a Small Business Brand?

A well-designed mascot can easily become a small business’s best sales and marketing tool. When thinking about small business branding from the standpoint of a first impression, a fun, approachable mascot is more likely to grab consumers’ attention than a generic logo.

As ageless brand representatives, mascots serve as brand amplifiers that help a target audience to develop a closer relationship with a business.

You see—Good branding says something about the company before a person actually has any interaction with it. Mascots tend to personify a brand, enabling a business’s target audience to better identify, remember and understand a company and its services. As ageless brand representatives, mascots serve as brand amplifiers that help a target audience to develop a closer relationship with a business. Perhaps most importantly, mascots can open up a small business brand to multiple markets; as more customers relate to a company and its mascot, the marketing message will receive wider and deeper engagement.

Developing a Mascot for Your Small Business

Opting to develop a character or mascot as part of your small business brand is not an easy decision to make. Is a mascot appropriate for your small business? What kind of mascot would best represent your brand? What type of mascot could live across all of your advertising mediums?

Thankfully, a team of branding experts can help to answer many of these questions; however, it’s important for small business owners to consider the following before getting started:

  • Do you want a nostalgic-based mascot or one that is more modern?
  • Are there specific colors in your existing brand that should be used for your mascot?
  • What is the single most important characteristic that you want consumers to take away when they first encounter your mascot?

By answering these questions, small business owners can gain a clearer understanding of who the mascot should be and what it should accomplish.

The mascot’s genre and style should complement the typography, and the uniform that the mascot ‘wears’ should be based on the outfits and uniforms that employees wear, as well.

Nevertheless, whether a company is conservative, casual, edgy, or somewhere in the middle, every mascot should instill confidence by looking professional. The mascot design should be simple and, more importantly, original, rather than relying on clip art that has been used dozens of times before and cannot be trademarked. The mascot’s genre and style should complement the typography, and the uniform that the mascot ‘wears’ should be based on the outfits and uniforms that employees wear, as well.

Every detail matters.

After all, what you are trying to present is a positive image of your business and expectation of service that audiences might anticipate receiving, should they decide to partner with you.

Mascots Gone Wrong

Like any other marketing tool, mascots are highly effective when done right—but can be disastrous for a small business and brand if done wrong.

Here are a couple of signs of a mascot that’s been taken too far:

Cheesy and Amateur

You’ve seen these mascots before. They strive to appear ‘hip’ or ‘humorous’; instead, they come across as patronizing, and ultimately, alienate target consumers rather than attracting them. These poorly rendered mascots then make that particular company seem amateur. That’s why careful consideration must be given to the professionalism of the rendered mascots.

Brand Disconnect

A great personality is a key component of your mascot. In an effort to develop a friendly, relatable mascot, many small businesses lose sight of what a mascot is intended to do—establish a brand promise and embody the brand’s personality. When there is no brand promise present in a mascot, it loses its effectiveness as a brand representative. So, to avoid this disconnect, it’s important to collaborate with a creative team who can help you develop a mascot that accurately depicts your brand.

Ultimately, incorporating a small business brand mascot—when done the right way—can yield tremendous success for your company. Your brand mascot serves as an extension of your company, so it should represent your business in every way, from the color selection to the typography. With help from an experienced creative team, you can transform your brand from bland and indistinguishable, to attention-getting and memorable.