Brand mascots are pretty much everywhere. You meet them when you’re picking up your groceries, you look at them whenever you need a new pack of batteries. They are at your dentist’s, at your baker’s, even at your favorite car service. They dance on the stadiums and show up during events.
Why are B2C companies crazy about mascots? Because they really work. It’s hard to deny the fact that it’s easier to stay at the top of your prospects’ minds when you have a bright and flashy character to represent you.
However, what about B2B companies? Would a brand mascot improve your marketing efforts or do the opposite? How does a B2B audience perceive mascots?
Many people involved in B2B say that they don’t use mascots because they would either do more harm than good.
Why does this happen? Well, let’s go ahead and see what makes B2C mascots stand out and how it can be applied to B2B!
Why do advertising mascots work for B2C?
There is an explanation for everything. The reason for the brand characters’ popularity in B2C stems from several important aspects:
- Memorability. It’s had to get people to notice you when there are hundreds of companies selling a product similar to yours. And you want to be noticed - you can describe the unique qualities of your product only when people pay attention to you. By giving your brand a character that would stand out for your potential customers, you give them something to associate your brand with. Therefore, whenever your target audience realizes their need for a product, your company’s mascot would be the first thing that comes to mind.
- Humanity. People don’t trust faceless brands. They don’t want to talk to the company’s logo. They don’t believe that a brand without any human features is capable of caring about their needs and concerns. The task of a brand mascot is to prevent alienation and make the brand more relatable. This is why you often see advertising mascots going through various challenges, solving problems, or educating buyers on product specifics. They channel the brand’s voice in a way that would appeal to its target audience.
- Excitement. On average, people enjoy creativity. They appreciate colorful distractions and clever interludes. A thoroughly designed brand mascot for kids’ products would drive the little influencers crazy, making them push their parents towards a successful purchase. A stylish brand mascot of a laptop manufacturer would get potential buyers interested in exploring the latest models.
B2C mascots personify the company, making sure that it is remembered for many years to come. Of course, we’re talking about well-executed mascot ideas. The perfect brand mascot must appeal to the masses. One wrong decision — and your creation will end up in YouTube’s “Top 20 Mascots That Will Haunt You Forever.” Some say any exposure is good exposure — but this is not the kind you want.
But enough about B2C.
Why brand mascots don’t work for B2B?
In spite of pursuing similar goals, B2C and B2B marketing efforts differ in a lot of ways.
Every traditional B2C inbound or outbound technique doesn’t work for B2B. B2C advertising emails have no business in B2B email outreach.
How does it apply to brand characters?
They can’t channel your B2B prospects’ problems
Apart from promoting or educating about the product, B2C brand mascots can also mirror the role of the consumer. For example, you can see cereal mascots enjoying their breakfast, cleaning product mascots wiping floors or doing dishes. These mascots are shown going through the typical buyer’s journey:
They encounter a problem → they look for a solution → they find the solution → they use it → they’re satisfied.
On average, B2B prospects don’t wait until the problem emerges.
They set their budgets for the year ahead of time and make roadmaps of their growth. Company CEO’s check with their sales data and growth plans constantly to see the areas for improvement and whether it makes sense to invest in a new asset or change a vendor.
Also, the issues of B2B prospects are far more nuanced and specific than just “I need to clean up quickly, what do I do?” or “I want a quick snack, what do I do?”. Outlining the pain points of each particular prospect and their industry takes a lot of research and skill, so it’s not something that you should leave to your mascot.
They are not treated seriously
Let’s face it, mascots are often associated with something silly and goofy. While it entertains B2C customers, it may actually offend your B2B prospects.
The worst mistake you can make is to show that you don’t treat your prospects as professionals and assume that some flashy stuff and a couple of cheap slogans are enough to win them over. Because when your prospects see a cartoon character trying to sell them something, they feel like they’re being talked down to — or that you have no respect for your own product.
Your audience prefers facts and numbers first, emotion second. Remember that.
Your prospects don’t want to speak with your brand mascot
Many B2C brands like to let their mascots interact with the buyers. Such characters speak to the audience via promotional emails, greet website visitors, and answer frequently asked questions. It’s a neat trick for building engagement and entertaining consumers who look for products that can improve their leisure, fix their immediate issues or just spice up their routine. These buyers don’t want to be distracted by other humans, so they would rather talk to a lovable drawn character than be pestered by someone from the customer support live chat.
However, your B2B audience has more intricate needs. You’re dealing with decision-makers who search for the assets capable of increasing their company’s productivity and profits. If you engage them right, they will present your message to the entire decision making group and be directly interested in choosing you.
However, you can’t expect this outcome if you keep pushing your mascot forward and forgetting about your sales reps.
Your prospects look for a real person. Someone they can speak with or meet over a cup of coffee. Someone who can consult them or be called up in case they have questions. B2B prospects don’t take kindly to the vendors who prefer obscurity and imaginary avatars over transparency and real people.
Therefore, if you promote your brand mascot everywhere but don’t show your contact data or provide a link to your team members’ LinkedIn profiles, you do the exact opposite of building connections.
Is it possible to create B2B brand characters?
B2B marketing balances between speaking to people and speaking to professionals. Without a drop of humanity, your B2B relationships won’t last for long and your outreach campaigns won’t drive as many results as you expect them to.
Your sales executives - real, breathing people that one can reach, call or even meet in person - should be doing all the education, personification and promotion. The real B2B engagement is gained through a combination of lead research, right monitoring tools, personalized emails and the art of sales conversation.
However, when it comes to B2B marketing and spreading awareness about your brand, a brand mascot can come in handy.
Build your brand identity
If you work on creating an image of your brand, starting with a logo and ending with a color scheme, examine your brand closely. What kind of values do you represent? Can they be reflected in a character? Can your color scheme and overall aesthetic be used for designing a stylish mascot?
Explore your unique value proposition. Outline the key moments and think about the first associations that come to mind. If you can outline the concept of a character that can highlight your brand and complete it.
Design your educational materials
While you cannot use your B2B mascot to directly engage potential customers and decision-makers, creating a character who walks the visitors of your site through infographics, blog posts or video tutorials can actually improve readability and make your audience more willing to engage with your content.
In this case, your mascot can point out the most relevant bits of information, explain the benefits of your products and services or break down the most complicated reports for your readers. If you don’t go overboard with the mascot’s design and use it wisely, your readers will appreciate the read and expect more in the future.
Tell a story
Storytelling will always be a powerful tool for generating interest and building engagement. If your industry allows you to talk about your brand’s growth, your teams’ achievements, your event participation stories, and your roadmap, your brand mascot can become your inbound prospects’ guide.
To build connection and interest, your character can reflect the scenarios your company is going through during its current stage of development, the challenges you're going through or the triumphs you experience.
Since people respond to visual content quite well, creating an animated character capable of channeling your company's vibe will make your audience more sympathetic towards your journey.
What do I need for a good B2B brand mascot?
As demonstrated above, there is a leeway for those who wish to inject more creativity into their B2B marketing. But how do you make a brand character helpful, especially with B2B communication? While we don’t have firsthand experience with making mascots, we know that your mascot's likability will depend on your vision, your understanding of your audience and a few very basic rules:
- Stick to simple designs. It doesn’t have to be overcomplicated. Too many details confuse people. Don’t be in a hurry to send the concept to your designers. Gather your team, make different sketches, create several options to choose from. Since your mascot will be representing your brand, you have to be 100% sure it’s on point. Your mascot doesn’t have to look like a cartoon but at the same time, it shouldn’t be too realistic. You don’t want your audience to be creeped out by the Uncanny Valley.
- Avoid sales-y phrases. Use your mascot to illustrate the points you bring up in your materials or convey the message about your company’s status and plans. Don’t turn it into your mouthpiece. It will never be good at addressing your decision-makers, so leave all the speaking and outreach to your sales teams.
- Create a compelling backstory. The best brand characters are the ones with a bio. Your mascot can represent the story of your brand, how it grew and developed over the years, how it got better and expanded. Don’t treat your brand mascot as a trendy placeholder. If you don’t feel that the character you want to add to your B2B marketing efforts clicks with your company’s style and pace, then you can do without it.
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