As consumers become ever more reliant on digital media, companies are recognizing the importance of humanizing their brands to engage customers better. Appealing web mascots provide a recognizable “face” that helps consumers engage and creates stronger brand identity to keep consumers coming back.
Mascots aren’t new to marketing. Smokey Bear (sometimes mistakenly called Smokey “the” Bear) changed the way an entire generation thought of fire safety through public service announcements aired during Saturday morning cartoons for over 60 years, along with educational appearances, posters, and catchy slogans.
Web mascots aren’t confined to Internet appearances any more than Smokey stayed in the woods. Companies capitalize on the way people relate to their human-like traits and use their digital mascots at trade shows, in multimedia presentations, and in print materials.
It’s tough to imagine a web mascot enduring for six or seven decades in a digital world, but two lively, entertaining, and colorful characters show promise. Roger, the SEOmoz Robot, and the toothy monkey that brands MailChimp, illustrate how web mascots can develop a fan base that promotes the company themselves to create the most effective kind of advertising – buzz – at the lowest cost investment.
The SEOmoz Robot – Roger
With a slew of search engine optimization (SEO) products and websites, SEOmoz sets itself apart from its competitors in two distinctive ways. It develops software that hones in on certain SEO characteristics rather than trying to “do it all,” and it uses Roger to illustrate the TAGFEE acronym that guides the company’s vision.
For the TA (Transparent and Authentic), Roger is shown as if he’s undergoing an x-ray to illustrate the importance of showing customers the inner workings of a company website. Generosity, the G, is compared to his hand as the company asks their consumers, “Am I do everything I can to be helpful?” The F for Fun directs viewers to check out Roger’s shiny wheels that get him going. The Es, for Empathy and Exceptional, reveal Roger as having both heart and brain.
SEOmoz uses Roger at marketing events around the world, where he poses for pictures with fans and gets people smiling simply by being in his proximity. Fans post their photos on websites, giving the company greater exposure and testimonial values that the Seattle-based company couldn’t pay for.
MailChimp’s Toothy Monkey
Another popular little guy is the toothy simian found at MailChimp, a company devoted to helping businesses conduct successful e-mail marketing campaigns. Consumers’ accounts are branded with the feisty monkey that resembles Curious George, and the company freely provides images for their subscribers to use to boost their own campaigns by linking brands.
Joel Gillman liked his company’s box of summer gifts that was thoroughly branded with the cheeky chimpanzee. When he discovered a couple of stickers included, he decided to use one to decorate an item he uses regularly – his Sigg bottle.
The low cost of including printed stickers with shipments will pay off for MailChimp as people will comment on Joel’s water bottle and initiate conversations about what MailChimp is, what the company does, and how Joel’s company benefits from being a customer. As hundreds or thousands of other consumers use the stickers in their own creative ways, this effectively creates an educational campaign that didn’t cost more than the price of ordering stickers with a pre-existing image of a well-liked mascot.
The best web mascots create consumer experiences that mirror human interaction over a digital medium, a quality that consumers value, remember, and share with their spheres of influence.
Written by Charles Dearing: Charles is a freelance tech writer and webhost expert. He keeps tabs on all the latest hosting news and follows all the popular webhosts such as iPage. See this review on WhoIsHostingThis.