What makes for a relatable, memorable brand?
That’s one of the most important questions companies encounter in our society as we are constantly faced with innovation. A downside of our industry’s consistent ingenuity is that consumers can get over-saturated and be overwhelmed with choice as they try to pick out a product, bringing me back to my original question: How can you make your brand stand out?
One concept I’ve noticed is mascots. We all are familiar with major media collaborations in the form of Strawberry Shortcake, Marvel superheroes, or Sesame Street characters. If we go one step further, what stands out most to me are anthropomorphized figures of produce, or produce hybrids, if you will.
Take Japan’s Ehime prefecture’s mascot Mikyan, a combination of a Mandarin (mikan) and a dog (kyan is the sound a Japanese dog makes). Cute, right? With a charming dog advertising mandarins, it’s easy to develop an interest in the brand and product. At least, it’s a character I’ve remembered for over four years now.
A study released in 2014* by Sagyan Sagarika Mohanty noted that brand mascots can “help to create and express [a] brand’s personality. They also help the target market to identify, remember, and understand the brand.”
Having a relatable character allows the brand to stand stronger in the consumer’s consciousness—creating emotions and feelings and giving the company’s name one face to remember—long after the consumer was first introduced to the concept. It’s something that consumers will think about when they pick up a product.
Shoppers relate to mascots that are more on the friendlier side, so companies should avoid having their spokesperson sporting a scary persona. If we bring it closer to home, we see this concept already at play.
Ocean Mist® Farms has Arti the Artichoke—a Fan Favorite winner—and Continental Fresh is now in the game with Juicy the Mango. Why are these characters essential? Because they represent the company’s strongest category, giving a face to the brand through the actions the mascot executes during promotions.
I am not saying that every company should have a produce mascot as the face of its brand. Having an industry that is full of sameness won’t make you stand out, no matter how entertaining it would be to see a show floor full of moving produce. However, it is one avenue that I feel is underrepresented—currently.