Recently, I've published several posts about brand mascots, cartoon-like characters that can infuse your brand with personality. In my first posts about brand mascots, I defined what they are. Further on, triggered by a reader's comment, I wrote an article Beastly branding, in which I concluded that most of brand mascots take shapes of people, animals, birds and insects.
Today, I want to talk about brand mascots that have evolved online.
Many online brands (and I've already written about the Twitter bird and Hootsuite owl) infuse some of that real-life personality by using brand mascots in their brand communications.
A good list of online brand mascots has been published in this article on Mashable. Here are the 8 mascots described there, apart from the already-mentioned Twitter bird and Hootsuite owl:
1) The Twitter Fail Whale
2) The Foursquare boy
The name of the company is derived from a playground game with the same name, Four Square. My take on it is that Foursquare wants us all to "join in, and play the game", hence the mascot of a playing boy. The playground ball game Four Square, however, is probably mostly known in the US, where one would detect a subtle link between the ball game Four Square, and Foursquare's invitation to "play the game". I suspect this association might not be so apparent in other parts of the world, however.
In one of my previous articles, Learn to speak the language of your brand, I talked about brand naming for companies that want to expand internationally. The bottom line is that brand names (along with all the desired brand associations that they result in) should be understood in all countries where the brand in question wants to reach. Foursquare should have kept this in mind when naming its brand with potential to grow outside of the US.
3) Google "Doodles"
This one is very special. Probably everyone has noticed that Google displays different images on its homepage, depending on the zeitgeist. Sometimes it's just a plain Google logo, but often it comes accompanied by the so called "Doodles" -- images that express the holiday spirit, or important events.
I am not entirely sure whether Doodles are strictly speaking brand mascots, but this doesn't really matter. The point is, they add a bit of a zest to the brand, and entertain us all.
4) The Travelocity Gnome
I've mentioned the Gnome in the article on brand mascots, here he is, along with his Facebook fan page.
The remaining four brand mascots that have evolved online are the Firefox's fox, the Facebook "head" (used by Facebook in its early days), Myspace's people with headphones, and Reddit's Alien.