How Do You Design a Brand Mascot?

How Do You Design a Brand Mascot?

It’s pretty difficult to argue against the importance of a mascot. They’re incredibly engaging characters who help tempt the public into parting with their hard earned pennies. And they do it all with an emphasis on FUN!

So, yeah, mascots are pretty rad, but how do you even being to start designing one? Sure, the M&M characters are just a bunch of anthropomorphic M&Ms, but is it really as simple as sticking some arms and legs onto a product?

I wish it was as my life would suddenly become a lot easier! Instead, you need to come up with a mascot which marks out your client as more than a cold, calculating business machine. And to do this you need to condense that brand’s personality into a character which can appeal to everyone.

It’s a pretty tough ask, but more than achievable if you stay on the right track. To help you get started designing some amazing mascots I’m going to take you through a brief guide on how to nail it.

It’s Not Just a Design, It’s a Personality

We all know that a company logo should radiate a brand’s personality and aims, but they always feel a little bit inanimate, don’t they?

You can’t imagine the McDonalds logo throwing one of its golden arches around you and telling you that everything’s going to be okay, can you? No, but we’re well aware that Ronald McDonald is more than happy to lead us to the promised land of burgers and happiness.

If we examine old Ronald a little closer we can see exactly why he’s such a successful mascot. He’s the very personification of what McDonalds are striving to offer – good times! He’s a clown, after all, and you don’t get much funner than that. Apologies if you have a fear of clowns!

And it’s the high engagement appeal of Ronald McDonald which subconsciously informs consumers to head to McDonalds over, say, Burger King.

Getting Started with a Mascot

First off, you need to do some research into successful mascots to see how they embody their associated brand. We’ve already analysed Ronald McDonald, but there are plenty more to investigate such as Tony the Tiger, the Android robot and Captain Birdseye.

Once you’ve got a handle on what makes mascots tick you can turn your attention to your current client. Understand the brand you’re working for by brainstorming all their personality traits and sit down with them to understand exactly how the mascot is going to be used.

Finding out which mediums the mascot will be used in is imperative at this stage. For example, if the mascot is purely going to be used in packaging then you need to make sure it’s a bold and simple creation which is going to stand out. If it’s going to be used in TV adverts and online then you’re going to have to consider something which can easily be animated.

And then you can start on some rough sketches!

Designing a Mascot

So, you’ve got a few ideas and scribbled sketches that you think have potential. What do you do next?

Your early scribbles are a great starting point, but you need to start sharpening them up to kick start the design process. Go back to your brainstorming notes on the brand’s personality and see how you can integrate these aspects into your mascot. If, for example, “cute” is one of the phrases you’re working with then you could increase the eye and smile size of your mascot.

With this basic character in place you then need to take it in several different directions stylistically to see what works best. It’s here that you can establish whether shading is needed, the best colours, thickness of outlines etc to get a more professional looking mascot. Get in touch with the client at this point to get feedback.

By now you’ll be ready for the final illustration where you should look to create between 15 – 20 different poses for the mascot. To show how adaptable your creation is you’ll want to feature them running, jumping, eating, peering round corners etc. This should prove to the client that the mascot is going to work anywhere.

Just remember to make sure that the mascot is designed in such a way that you can easily stick a Santa hat on it at Christmas. Everyone loves a Christmas mascot!

And that’s how you get started in the complex world of mascot designing!

MARKUS – Graphic Designer in London


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