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The CWC guide to Facebook success: creating a mascot character profile

Costume Characters are a great way to promote your business, charity, sports club, products, services, the list is endless. Where there is a mascot there is usually a buzz of excitement, people taking photographs and generally getting giddy about interacting with your oversized ambassador.

Walnuts Lights
This type of live event creates a memorable occasion for those lucky enough to be there and leaves a positive lasting impression that means hopefully, the next time someone requires what you can offer, you’ll be at the forefront of their minds. But what about all those people that can’t get to the event or live in a different country that would love to know more about your services? It would seem a shame to allow your brand ambassador to live only for their events, especially when the modern world is such a small place.

Thanks to the miracles of technology, no longer are your mascots destined only to be local heroes. From the platform of the internet, your character can shoot for the moon and reach the stars; or potential customers, right across the globe with a little bit of creative thinking.

If you haven’t thought about creating a social media page for your character, then now is a good time to start. Facebook is still at the top of the social media pile with over 1 billion views a day and approx. 2 billion unique sessions a month. It’s a medium for exposure that shouldn’t be overlooked and is a great place to start your mascot’s journey into online personable interaction with your audience.

As well as individual profiles, there are also over 60 million ‘Business’ pages that have been created, such as ours, giving you easily accessible information and keeping you up to date with the latest goings on from company HQ. With all the various page types to choose from, this brings us nicely to our first consideration.

Profile vs Pages

Character PageWhen setting up a page for your character, you’ll be hit with choices right off the bat. The first choice you will have to make is whether you want to create a profile or a page for your mascot. There are differences in the two which will change the way you interact with your audience:

Profile

This is the typical individual profile like the one you would set up for yourself. With a profile page, only those who you invite or accept as a friend will be able to see your content and in a profile, advertising/paid promotion isn’t available. Only one of these pages can be created with one login and password.

Pages

Much more suited to business, pages are a great way to showcase your product, brand, event and you’ve guessed it, mascot. With pages, content is available for everyone to see and instead of inviting friends you invite people to like your page. Pages allow for paid advertising and promotion, so once you’re all set up and happy with the details you can start to put some premium promotion behind your character should you so choose.

Facebook PageBecause the Character you want to be promoting is your brand ambassador, I would suggest choosing to create a Page rather than a profile as this will give you the most amount of flexibility with your account.

What type of page should I use?

Once you have made your decision to start and have clicked the pages button, you will be presented with a list of options as to what you would like your page to be. There are 6 options to choose from, but only one that I would recommend for your brand ambassador:

Artist, Band or Public figure – Used to be called a fan page back in the day, this would be the right Public Figure Logochoice for a fully dedicated page all about your mascot. With this category, you can be a little more personable with the tone of your message as people will be interacting with a character that has its own personality, opinions etc. without the usual corporate undertones you would expect on a dedicated business page. The idea is to build brand association between your products/services and your mascot. People are much better at remembering faces than they are business names so it’s a great way to keep at the forefront of your potential customer’s mind.

If you find that you have chosen a type of page that on reflection isn’t suited to your character, you can always go into your settings to change the page type later.

What next?

So now you’ve made your decision and you are ready to start building the content for your mascot showcase; what kind of information do you need to create a successful page? Below I’ll discuss 5 important points to consider when constructing your character profile.

Back story

Sid BioEveryone has a back story; a place of origin, likes and dislikes, annoying character traits (we all have them) and a distinct personality. It’s what makes us all so unique and if it wasn’t for these differences, the world would be such a boring place. Real or fictional, a back story is a great way to bring your character to life.

When thinking about your character’s back story, think about where they were born, where they grew up, if they have any family, a romantic interest, favourite hobby, funny story surrounding a calamitous event, how they came to your employment, it can be as elaborate as you want it to be! The aim is to make your mascot more relatable by giving it a history and turning it into a ‘real’ character. If people grow an affinity towards your mascot then there’s a good chance they’ll come to you next time they need your services.

Photos and videos

Essential to any social media page, photos and videos are what your potential Wolfie Photosclients will interact with most often. These tend to stand out against status updates, post links, and text-based content because our brains can process imagery faster than it can decipher the text.

Over 90% of human interaction is visual so it makes sense to follow this thinking when it comes to social media. Think about the kind of things you look at on social media. I’m guessing that most of the memorable posts you have engaged with recently contain either photos, videos or cats…. far more cats than you would want to admit to but probably in one of the two formats discussed. So logically, the answer is to get a cat mascot costume and to take lots of photos of it.

I jest but having some great promo shots of your character and making sure you travel with a camera to all events will ensure you get some fantastic and interesting snaps to share with your fans, who in turn will share with their friends, and the chain grows longer, expanding your reach far beyond the physical boundaries of a local event.

Other content

Once your character page is up and running; you’ve fabricated your biography and have taken lots of great photos of your mascot, it’s time to start looking at building and planning regular content to keep your potential customers engaged.

Whether it be linking through to an interesting article or playing fill in the blanks, content should be varied and promote interaction between your Brand Ambassador and your page fans. A great tip is to have a look at your potential customer base and to do a bit of research to see what matters to them and what they generally find interesting. If you can tap into this when looking at content for your page, you will find the interaction levels increase when a fan is genuinely interested in a topic.

It’s well known that the hard sell isn’t an effective method when it comes to Facebook, so even though your customer is potentially interested in your product, a direct sales message (unless heavily promoting a significant discount) will be skipped past by most people, so keep it light-hearted.Word Morph

Another great way to engage fans is to pose questions. Think about finishing off some of your posts with a discussion point or ask for an opinion. We all like to give our 2 cents worth and if it’s a topic close to your customers’ hearts, not only will you get the opportunity to engage, but you’ll also learn some valuable insights into their likes/dislikes so you can further tailor your offer or content down the line.

Competitions can also get your fans engaging with your content. Something like a caption contest or a small sweepstake is all that is needed to start the likes and shares flowing, creating a buzz around your character and their page.

It’s important to remember that the prize on offer should reflect the amount of effort required to enter the competition. If it’s a big prize, then make your fans work a little harder for it by submitting an entry. If it’s information you are after, keep the prize small and make it a simple comment below type of contest. A competition is a great way to gain valuable information and stats from your customers that can be used later. For example, to enter a sweepstake, fans may have to like and share the post and then tell you what their favourite flavour of ice cream is in the comments below. This information could allow you to introduce a new flavour down the line that you know will be a popular choice because you’ve heard it right from the horse’s mouth.

With all content, it is important to remember to promote the core values of your company in the way you present, write and perform with your character both online and offline. If your character is about promoting healthy living, then try not to offer unhealthy prizes, or give information contradicting the beliefs of the company. This can lead to you sending a confusing message to your customers that can de-value the hard work you have put in to building your brand.

Above all, keep your content interesting. It’s better to have 2-3 relevant and engaging posts a week than to fill up your wall with low-quality daily content for the sake of posting.

Account linking

social-media-icons

Account Linking is the act of joining two or more social media platforms so that if you post on one, it automatically posts on the other and vice versa. This may sound like a great idea at first; meaning that you can reach out to all your networks in one go but people use Facebook and Twitter (which we’ll use for this example) in very different ways. For example, Twitter posts are limited to a set number of characters (140 characters, not including Twitter handles – the @username) whereas Facebook will allow up to 5000 characters per comment or status update, allowing for longer posts and in-depth discussion right on the site.

Sharing your Facebook update with Twitter can end up cutting out a lot of the comment and can leave your Twitter account looking messy with lots of seemingly unfinished comments. There’s also the issue around replying to fans and potential customers. When linking, there are no notifications that let you know when someone has replied or commented on a thread via the other platform, so unless you log in regularly to either account, your Character might unintentionally ignore your customer base who may search elsewhere.

The best advice I can give you on this is to start with one platform, and only open your character up to more social media avenues when you feel ready to handle them individually. Products like Hootsuite enable you to choose which posts go to which social site, so if you do feel the content is relevant on both, you get the option to share it.

Invitation and promotion

Boost PostTo get your page started, there are two ways to gain a following. One is through invitations, and the other method is through sponsored advertising.

Facebook offers several paid avenues to promote your character’s page, ranging from boosting posts to advertising in your local area. Both are relevant but depending on your end goals, these promotions can work out quite costly. The trick is to fine tune your advert audience interests to only include relevant topics and hobbies to ensure you maximise the spend.

Inviting people to like your page, on the other hand, is free but you can only invite people you either already know personally or have the email address for, which you can upload to Facebook so that it can send out the invites. Some people are happy to receive invites to their inbox, others can be a little wary as they can feel a little impersonal.

Wrapping up

You’ll hopefully find that if you follow our guidelines and post regular and relevant content a few times a week, your fan base should start to grow and your mascot will become more recognisable across the globe and not just locally.  The information above should get you started but don’t be afraid of trying new things as audience interaction is always evolving, especially in the fast-paced field of social media.

If I can leave you with one thing from this article to ensure a successful character page, it should be this short and simple message:

Don’t Market, Connect.

If you feel you need any help or advice on how to set up your costumed character’s page or just want a chat about creating your brand ambassador then send us a message via this form.

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Marathons and mascots: a guide to running in costume

marathon Legs

Participating in a marathon for many of us, is a superhuman feat. Over 26 miles of relentless running and jogging, or in many cases, walking and limping to complete a course designed to challenge even the hardiest of runners. Dedication, hard work and determination are required to complete the course, not to mention the mental strength to push beyond the ‘wall’ and keep those legs pounding the pavement to success.

For the most part, marathon runners can be categorised into three groups: The super-fit people that do it for kicks, jostling for position on the PB (personal best) leader board of their local running club or on the latest fitness App. There are those looking to better themselves physically, using the marathon as a goal to work up to, giving their training a purpose with a goal to achieve and then there are those selfless individuals who do it to raise money and awareness for charities across the country (and the world), raising millions of pounds each year for many a good cause. Regardless of what group you fit into, the notion of increasing the challenge to include the additional layers that a costume can add seems crazy and yet there is no better way to get noticed out on the course. With the Greater Manchester and London marathons just around the corner, we thought we’d explore some of the considerations behind wearing a costume on race day.

Firstly, you will be running for a long time. Most mascot manufacturers will tell you that stopwatchthe maximum recommended time to wear a typical mascot costume without a break is approximately 30-45 minutes or shorter for more energetic performances. This helps prevent dehydration, overheating and general discomfort to the performer. Additional considerations to the character design should be made when running a long distance to ensure the safety of the competitor inside the costume. A costume suitable for running should adhere to the following points:

  • Lightweight
  • Well ventilated
  • Comfortable
  • Flexible and well fitted (Skin characters)
  • End above the Knee (Inanimate characters)

Running in a costume that does not address these simple points can be uncomfortable and ultimately unsafe; risking dehydration, fatigue and an endless amount of chafing for the person unlucky enough to wear it. The average time for completing a marathon (elites aside) is around the 4-hour mark so you can see why the well-being of the runner is paramount in all decisions regarding the manufacture of the costume.
Ambrosia PotFrom a makers’ perspective, there are a few additional considerations that can be made to assist in the comfort and safety of the runner. Amendments to a costume design to include additional vent holes throughout the character head, or open spacing where there would normally be a gauze layer (such as the mouth) all help to increase air circulation around the runner. We’ve even changed designs so that the head of the runner is visible if that is their preference.

Character feet are usually oversized and generally difficult to run long distances in. Spat style shoe covers in the style of your character can be made to go over running trainers, allowing you to compete without the concern of stumbling over or tripping up other competitors amongst other podiatric concerns.

Meryl lycra (or CoolMax) material can be used in place of heavy, warmer matPercy Pigerials like fleece or foam to keep the runner cool. Meryl lycra has moisture wicking properties and draws sweat away from the body to the outside of the material where it disperses into the air. This type of fabric is typically found in sportswear so is perfect for active costumes and a great choice for those running a marathon.

So now you’ve got a costume that fits correctly, is well ventilated and lightweight, what next? It would take someone very special to just go out there and run a marathon without any prior preparation, especially in a costume, so let’s have a look at the build-up to race day and what you should do to get yourself ready for the big event.

Pre-race training

marathon mile 20You should start your training well in advance of the event and build up towards running a longer distance each month. It’s not recommended that you run a full 26 miles in your training. There’s something quite unique about running with like-minded people in an exciting atmosphere that can’t be replicated in training and you’ll find the miles fly by at the event. Running 26.2 miles is difficult for your body to recover from and can have a negative effect on your training efforts so keep this for race day. Ensure that you run shorter distances regularly and you’ll see much more benefit.

Training to run as a costumed character will require some additional efforts to guarantee you have a safe race and the aim is to be prepared and to manage the expectations of what you can achieve in costume. No one is expecting you to smash your PB but they are expecting you to have fun and make it round the course in one piece. Here’s some advice to help you prepare for the challenge ahead.

Firstly, knowing a little about your character is essential. Turning up on the day to find out the costume is too big or too heavy is going to scupper your chances of completing the course. If you are planning to use your own costume then buy it as soon as you can. If it is a costume for a charity or company then speak to them and try to get access to the costume early. Sometimes this may not be possible due to prior engagements and if this is the case, get some details that will help you prepare. Size, weight and material are all important questions in your quest for preparedness and answers you should be able to get relatively easily. If you can get access to the costume then put it on and take it out for a short run to ensure that it feels comfortable and secure. Wearing it before the event will allow you to iron out any issues before it’s too late, such as ventilation and how hot it will get. Once you have an idea of how the costume feels to run in and have addressed any issues, you can then put it to one side until the actual event so as not to cause any damage or unnecessary wear and tear.

backpackNow you have an idea of how it feels to run as your character, you can start to adjust your training routine accordingly. Running with a backpack and gradually working up to the equivalent weight of your costume is a great way to prepare your body for the additional layers, allowing you to feel the difference that a few extra kilograms can add without the need to wear the costume and risk damaging it. This gives your body chance to adjust to the added strain and will make race day a much more pleasant experience. Remember not to push too hard and that completing a marathon in training is counterproductive to the end goal.

Another great tip is to train in warmer clothing. Most costumes will add layers and layers equal additional heat. Training in a thick jumper for example will allow your body to become accustomed to the raised temperature that you would expect to feel inside a costumed character. Fluids will vanish rapidly with the additional heat so get used to drinking plenty of water. A camel pack will ensure you have access to fluids throughout the race. This is especially important if your costume covers your face and makes it difficult to drink from a bottle or cup.

Race day

Hopefully by this point you’ve been training hard and are now as prepared as you can be for the gruelling run ahead. You’re on the start line and ready to set off down the course, dressed to the nine’s in a local charity’s cat costume and you’re raring to get the race underway. With most the hard work over, all you have to do now is complete the course and you’ll be a local hero. However, completing the course is easier said than done, especially wearing a mascot costume. Sure enough, the crowds and atmosphere will pull you along for some of the way but there are a few key pointers that will help get you to the finish line.

Ambrosia Man MarathonFirstly, start nearer to the back of the pack than you would do out of costume. At the back is where the slower competitors start but it’s also where a lot of the atmosphere is created. Serious runners will block out the crowds and strive to finish in as fast a time as possible. Your aim shouldn’t be that when dressed up. It should be about creating awareness for your chosen charity or brand, participating with the crowds and other competitors to give them a ‘show’ on the way round. Pace yourself correctly and you will achieve a respectable time but if your aim is to beat your PB then perhaps running in a costume isn’t for you.

Being dressed as a character is an open invitation for people to tell you what they think. Be it good or bad, expect comments from people throughout the event and try not to take the negative ones to heart. It takes a certain kind of someone to don a Costume and run 26 miles so much of what you will hear and see should build on an already amazing experience for you and those around you.

As mentioned in the pre-race section, your costume will become hot and you are likely to lose fluids faster than the average ‘naked’ runner. Drinking fluids regularly is paramount to staying safe throughout your run and is worth pointing out again. Short sips rather than big gulps should help to regulate your hydration more effectively and the simple rule is to only drink when you feel thirsty. That way you avoid the issues of both dehydration and over-hydration by listening to your body, which brings us nicely to our next point…

Percy Pig MarathonPlay it safe. If you start to feel unwell, or in pain then stop or take a break. There’s nothing more important than your health and if this is being challenged then there is no shame in pulling out. After all, if Paula Radcliffe can stop 22 miles into an Olympic event with an injury, then don’t feel bad about pulling up short of your target if you need to.

Lastly and most importantly, Enjoy yourself. When you’re out in the middle of the field and you’re getting some well-deserved cheers and applause from the spectators and other runners, that’s the time to really take it all in and seize the day. You’re doing something that not everyone can do so be proud. Take in the atmosphere and you’ll soon find that the miles fly by as you get caught up in the fun. You’re also part of the entertainment and it’s thanks to costumed characters like you that the event is enjoyable for other people to watch.

One more point for race day that I chose to mention last because it’s very important is that Vaseline (or equivalent lube) will become your best friend. Make sure you bring some with you to alleviate the pain of chafe. Not everyone suffers from it but there is no doubt that the addition of a costume increases the likelihood of this phenomenon occurring so plan-ahead and reduce the rub….

Post race

stamford marathonNow is the time to bask in the glory of your success. You’ve made it to the finish line and hopefully you’ve had a great time getting there. There’s no doubt that you’ll be feeling the strain of the course but the goal you have achieved is something to be very proud of. Take time to rest, take on fluids if you need them and make sure that you warm down thoroughly.

After you’ve had chance to recover, now comes the time to sort out your costume. If the costume is your own, follow the washing instructions and make sure you dry it thoroughly in a well-ventilated area. Spread the costume out so that it has chance to air and you’ll reduce the smell that damp can create for future uses. Charities and companies may not expect you to wash the costume as some will send it in for a professional wash and clean after each event, but to keep the costume in good shape make sure it is dry before packing it up again. We’ve seen (and smelt) the effects that damp can cause on a costume and it’s not very nice, especially if it’s you that has to put it on next.

Here at CWC we have plenty of experience in creating characters with running as a consideration and can help with designing the perfect costume for you or your organisation. We also offer a full professional character refurbishment service, so if your character crosses the line and comes back a bit whiffy, you know where to send it for a bit of TLC.

Hopefully this has given you some useful tips for the next or first time you decide to run in a costume. Be it marathon, 10K, 5K or Park Run, entering a character into the event is a fantastic way to raise awareness and become a sure-fire hit with the spectators. If you don’t take yourself too seriously, you will have one of the most entertaining races and who knows, you might even get the bug.

If you’d like advice, or would like to talk to us about creating a costume for your run, we’re only too happy to help.

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The power of a Pudsey: how a furry face can improve your fundraising finesse

Children In Need

With the BBC’s Children in Need just around the corner, reports are coming in that Pudsey Bear is once again being sighted around the UK. Lighting up charity events and shopping centres the length and breadth of the country, his golden fur and signature spotty eye patch all fresh and ready for a new season of telethon fund-raising, Pudsey can be seen shaking his bucket and ultimately at some point his behind, all in the name of raising money for a fantastic cause.

A brief history

CIN Old LogoChildren in Need was first televised in 1980. Prior to this, the BBC had several radio and televised charity events under various names with a similar aim: to change the lives of disabled children and young people across the UK. It wasn’t until 1985 that Pudsey Bear made his first televised appearance for the charity. Designed by BBC graphic artist Joanna Ball, Pudsey got his name from the town in which Joanna was born and her father was mayor. The first design was a triangular logo with a sad-looking yellow bear sporting a red bandana with black triangles dotted across it, who was loosely designed to look like Sooty (who had hosted previous telethon and charity events).
Pudsey LogoThe teddy bear, the lower case letters and phonetics in his name were all thoughtfully considered to ensure that the logo and sentiments behind it were conscientiously child- and adult-friendly. This simple design was updated a year later to the more popular smiling Pudsey with familiar white spotty bandana, sat upon children’s building blocks spelling the charity name, which would be used up until 2006. Initially, Pudsey was created as a teddy bear and it wasn’t until a few years later that the costume walk-about characters came on to the scene, allowing Pudsey’s reach to go further than ever before and for the cuddly character to get physically involved in the charities work.
CIN Latest Logo
In 2007, an agency was commissioned with giving Pudsey a refresh and the cuddly character was re-designed, losing his buttons and gaining a new multi-coloured bandana to bring him right up to date and to keep the yellow bear relevant in our ever changing world. Partly, the new design was to increase his internet appeal by considering his online presence and how the character would translate from the physical to the digital when gesturing and moving around on screen in animated form. Two years later Pudsey was joined by Blush, a female companion (just friends I believe) and brown bear sporting a spotty bow in the same colours as Pudsey’s bandana. Blush was conceived to increase the charities appeal and attract more corporate partners by diversifying the brand. Blush is also around to give Pudsey a hand from time to time by attending some of the fundraising events alongside him. All in the name of a good cause, the BBC’s Children in Need has raised over £650 million since its inception in 1980, with large thanks to Pudsey and the late, great Terry Wogan who, up until his death in 2016 had presented the show every year without fail (he backed out of presenting in 2015 due to ill health).pudsey and blush pose

This year sees a very special Children in Need Rocks concert that pays homage to the life and fundraising prowess of one of the nation’s most loved presenters. In true Terry style, all proceeds will go to the Children in Need charity he so dearly cherished. Here at CWC, we are extremely proud to be the ONLY official approved supplier of Pudsey and Blush bears to fundraisers across the UK and we do our part to ensure that each and every Bear that leaves our studio is finished perfectly and uses only the very best materials to ensure that whatever is thrown in Pudsey and Blush’s direction, they can fundraise and frolic without a care.

Mascots can make your charity money

For those of you who are considering using an existing character, or creating a new furry figurehead for your charity or business and would like to get involved with fundraising, then choosing a Mascot as your campaign ambassador is a clever move. Although there haven’t been many studies to show the impact of a charity mascot on Charitable donations, it’s well known that a bubbly brand ambassador can increase the amount of cash collected for a cause. The reasons for this are varied and I’m sure everyone has their opinion on what it is that makes a Mascot such an effective charity Spokes-character but here’s a few that I think are fundamentally important considerations as to the reason why.

st lukes hospiceFirstly, a mascot can be the anthropomorphic representation of a business or cause. As humans, we have a tendency to try and understand the world through animalistic association, often humanising, or giving a ‘personality’ to objects and things so that we can make sense of them and interact with them appropriately. It’s much easier to interact with a character than it is to make conversation with a brick wall as a very obvious example, so charities and businesses anthropomorphise their values and beliefs to make people more susceptible to interaction, and in turn, this makes the general public more likely to sympathise with the cause and dig that little bit deeper into their pockets.

A mascot character also strengthens the consumer awareness of a brand. Pudsey Bear is a fantastic example of this working for a charity. Exposure over many years has firmly cemented him as the Spokes-Character of Children in Need and he is very much a fundamental part of their fundraising drive. People quite simply love Pudsey. He’s as popular now as he has ever been, especially with Mac Mughis update and transition to the internet in 2007, increasing the reach of his charitable donations bucket to a worldwide audience. Now, you don’t even need to see the charity name to associate Pudsey with the Children in Need brand, he is that brand.

We, as members of the general public have also built an emotional connection with this loveable ambassador and his worthy cause, I mean who wouldn’t? The mission statement, the cuddly Characteristics and the Child-like glee of high fiving, or interacting with a giant Teddy Bear allows us to form a warm and positive opinion of the charity, trusting that the donations we are giving will be going to a very good cause. This model can be seen across many charities around the world, incorporating some form of Mascot as the ambassador for Millie's Trust Georgie and Geoffreytheir cause with the aim of maximising on donations.

Lastly a mascot is, for the most part, cute and cuddly. That in itself is more than enough to cause an emotional reaction in the general public and melt even the coldest heart. A lot of charity mascots are designed to remind us of soft toys and pets that we may have had when we were younger. ‘This nostalgic association evokes higher levels of emotion and donation intentions within the general public than charities without this connection’. Not my words, but the words of John B. Ford and Altaf Merchant from a study into the power of charitable appeals based on emotions and intentions conducted in 2010. So genuine scientific proof confirms that considerations in design to incorporate some aspect of nostalgia for the target audience will in fact affect the final total in a positive way.

Four ideas for your furry fundraising friend

Now we’ve discussed a couple of reasons why mascots increase charitable donations, backed up by a little bit of science right at the end, I think it would be unfair to give you all this information without giving you some ideas as to how you can use your character to fundraise for your chosen charity, so here’s a few ideas to spark your charitable creativity:

hope greggs1. Pounding the pavement
This is the tried and tested method of actually getting out there to busy shopping areas and town centres with your bucket in hand, using all of your Character charms to interact with the general public. You can dance with them, wave, hi-five, you name it but be careful not to get too carried away. Not everyone will be interested in playing along so make sure you judge the situation wisely. However, if you pick the right people, the donations will come pouring in. Especially if your character has built up a bit of a crowd with its antics. It’s also a great way to gain exposure in your local area. People will ask questions and some may even take photos or video, increasing your exposure should people upload their videos and photos to the world wide web. This last point is of course relevant for most activities simply because mascots aren’t something you see every day (unless you work for a mascot maker or are actually a mascot) and makes an interesting discussion topic.

harry2. Create a social media presence
Your character is the voice of your charity or business so why not give it some freedom to interact away from the confines of the physical using social media. You can use it as a platform to introduce your character, what the charity does and what events are happening that involve your Mascot, but in a way that doesn’t feel like a great big advert. Giving your character this platform allows it to create its own identity that people can associate and interact with in a way they couldn’t if it was just a general charity page. All of a sudden your character becomes an individual, with feelings and emotions that the public can relate to. As mentioned above, this anthropomorphic model of your charity will make people more susceptible to joining in, sharing, attending events and ultimately donating to your cause.

marty bear3. The spirit of Competition
A great way to spark interest and get people talking about your charity is with a competition. Why not contact schools, nursing homes and local businesses asking them to get involved in fundraising and offer the incentive that if they reach a certain total, they will get a visit from your character for a meet, greet and play session (for example). Alternatively, run a competition where the winners get a visit from your character to host an action packed activity day with all the proceeds from the event going to charity. If you ensure entry to the competition is something that everyone can do with minimal effort, you’ll find people more inclined to join in with the fun.

percy pig marathon4. Mascots and marathons
A more extreme but still very achievable fundraising idea is to take your Mascot for a run! Costumed characters running (or walking) marathons and participating in other sport events always brings fantastic exposure to a charity, with most people realising the superhuman effort it takes to physically pull yourself around a course wearing something that gets heavier and hotter the longer you wear it. Plenty of photo opportunities (from the press and the public) alongside crowd interaction will make the day worthwhile and you’ll soon see the donations and sponsorship money come rolling through the door.

There are practically hundreds of fundraising ideas that you and your character can participate in, these examples are here to give you inspiration to make up your own events and activities which we’d love you to share with us in the comments below.

If you’re looking to design a character for your charity or business then why not visit our charity mascot gallery for inspiration or, if you’re still stuck for inspiration, give us a call. We’ll be more than happy to give you a helping hand with your design.

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Five reasons to refurbish your costumed character

refurb washing machine cow

Time flies when you’re having fun doesn’t it? Once again, another year has passed and after many, many shows, meet and greets and mascot-related excursions later, I can imagine your costumes are all starting to get a little, well let’s just say a little whiffy…

Whether it be used by one or by many people, there’s no denying these costumes can get hot and sweaty. Literally within the first few minutes of putting one on, the heat takes its toll and the unfaltering stream of sweat begins, coating you and the costume surrounding you with its moist residue and fragrant aroma. Also worth a mention are the countless drinks spilt, nay poured all over your mascot during the excitement of a character visit or the sticky hands from excitable children all pulling your character in various directions to play with this toy, or to join in a game of hide and seek for example. Opportunities for your brand ambassador to get a little grubby are more often than not so it makes sense to give it a little TLC from time to time.
With that in mind, here’s our top 5 reasons to refurbish your character:

Hygiene

Bacteria from sweat and other fluids can build up, causing your costume to perish and smell worse than a pair of well-worn socks. If your character gets wet, material that isn’t aired and dried properly can get that old towel smell which permeates the nostrils and leaves the smell hanging in there for hours to come. Not only will your reluctant wearers notice, but so too will members of the public who are interacting with your character. You’ll soon notice the hi-fives and hugs drop off from your pongy personality unless you keep it fresh and regularly washed.

Safety

With limited visibility, safety is paramount when performing in a costumed character. Steps have to be taken to ensure the safe keeping of the wearer and the surrounding environment. Loose foot straps, broken vision holes and faulty chin straps can be dangerous if not dealt with sooner rather than later, potentially causing injury to you, your employee or even worse…a child. When your character arrives back with us, we’ll check all fittings and fixtures to ensure they’re as solid as the day they were installed, ensuring the safety of your wearer and those around them.

Comfort

Well-kept, regularly maintained and clean costumes are much more comfortable to wear than tatty pieces of fur that have been left scrunched in a corner, only to be peeled off the floor for the next wearer to begrudgingly put on. A regular refurb and a little care ensures your character will be as comfortable one day to the next, increasing performance time and the general enthusiasm of wearers for the role.

Longevity

Regular maintenance of your costumes will keep your character in full working order for many years to come. Regular wear and tear on a character happens, it’s inevitable so ensure your character gets a chance to shine for years to come by keeping it repaired and refurbished regularly. We’ve got characters that still look as good today as they did when they were made over 10 years ago. Their secret? It’s simple. Regular refurbishments. Think of it as a car. Neglect it and after a few years your car is likely to fail its MOT. Keep it maintained and you’ll get years of happy motoring. This principle applies to mascots too… except the motoring, you can’t drive a mascot. There’s no engine silly…

Aesthetics/character refresh

Refurb time is also a great opportunity to look at your character and get some bits replaced, improved or completely refreshed. Your logo may have changed, or it’s missing an eye. You don’t want your mascot to be the ugly duckling and neither do we. We can offer you a full character refresh service, improving and updating any of the parts your feel are old or broken above and beyond our normal service. Additional charges may apply, but we’ll check everything with you before giving your mascot the full makeover it deserves.

Rabbit SaunaSo as you can see, there are many reasons why you should keep your characters looking (and smelling) tip top. Spending a little each year on the upkeep of your character is cost effective in the long term, meaning that you have to replace the suit less often, which in some cases can cost thousands of pounds, and generally improves the overall working environment for wearers and employees.

If you feel your brand ambassador could do with a good scrub, then why not book your character in with us today? We’ll give it the pampering it deserves!

You can book your costume in using our online form.

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Five of the most-favoured costume character shapes

Here at CWC we make very many costume characters. We make tall costumes, short costumes, fat costumes, thin costumes and everything in between. Out of the thousands of costumes we have made, there are a few particular styles of mascot that are requested and brought to life more often than others.

After trawling through data from the past few years, I have come up with a top five list of mascot shapes, and I’ll aim to give you an insight into why these choices are so popular. Who knows, it may even start you thinking about what mascot is best for your needs…

Click the title of each section below to be taken to the relevant costume pages. More costumes are being added all the time so keep checking back for more inspiration and ideas.

Bears

Pudsey BearWhen somebody asks you to think of a typical mascot shape, bears are usually not far from the forefront of people’s minds. One of our most popular shapes, the classic bear can take on many forms. It can be cute, it can be comical, it can be in clothes or completely naked (or should I say bare…), the bear is a versatile choice for any company looking to engage with an audience young or old. Used in sporting events (Olympics, football and many others), presidential campaigns (the infamous Theodore Roosevelt who gave name to the Teddy Bear) and charities (BBC Children In Need is a very high profile example) to name a few, the bear is seen as a symbol of strength, courage and endurance, not to mention a nostalgic treat for the majority of us.Stock patchwork bear

I remember gripping my Teddy tight as the monsters of the dark crept around my room, its fur reassuringly warm as it protected me from the gremlins living in our spare room and I’m sure I’m not the only one who still holds his teddy in high regard. This feeling of security that many of us have held on to from a young age makes the Teddy one of the more approachable characters in the costume kingdom. With so many positive attributes, it’s no wonder the bear is such a popular choice of mascot.

Humanoids

Newsquest Essex Echo ManWe briefly touched on what the term humanoid meant with regards to costume characters in a previous post (see the jargon buster – 10 terms to talk like a mascot maker post) but just to refresh for those that are new to our blog, a Humanoid is a character that is human-like in design and shape but is ultimately larger than life and in some cases a caricature with exaggerated features and body shape. This type of mascot is a popular choice across a broad range of industries. We’ve done humanoids for theme parks, TV shows, small businesses and charities to name a few and there is something reassuringly familiar about this body style.

Humans can relate to mascots that express human needs better than those that don’t. This isn’t Town Crier Magazine - Towncrierexclusive to humanoid mascots but is a prominent reason why this particular type of character is so popular. Suited to more active mascot work, humanoid shape bodies are a great choice for sporting clubs and occasions where the character plays an energetic role, such as a performance event entertaining the crowd. Popular choices are superhero style designs and characters that look like employees or are in a certain job role (such as our lovely town crier mascot), sporting the uniform of the club, group or company they are representing.

Lions

Max LionAn icon of strength, athletic ability and pride, the Lion is a great choice of character for those wanting to portray the aforementioned traits, or for those looking to create a mascot with an air of authority (Lions are well known as the king of the beasts). Lions can appear friendly or fearsome, furry or muscular, timid or forthcoming, it’s an animal that can adapt to many needs whilst maintaining an element of regality within its character. It’s a popular choice for many sports clubs, amateur and professional, invoking the spirit of the Lion into the fans and players whilst the character entertains from the sidelines.

Stamford LionA good few of the Lion costume characters we have brought to life are dressed in regal clothing. The mane, being a majestic natural crown, makes the lion a perfect choice for playing the part of royalty. The Barbary lion is a national symbol of England (amongst others), perhaps explaining why this animal is so popular in this part of the world. Stretching back to medieval times when English warriors were known as lions (including Richard the Lionheart), the Lion has been a prominent symbol in British culture ever since.

Dogs

Staffs Police DogWhat list would be complete without the ever faithful dog? Not this one as dog costumes make up a decent portion of the costume characters we bring to life. Dogs are a man’s best friend and are easy for people to identify with because they are such a popular pet and a common sight throughout the world. Dogs are also intelligent and loyal creatures. Choosing a dog costume humanises and emphasises these familiar traits and gives your character a head start with building rapport, instilling a safe and approachable vibe to the on looking crowd. Because of this reason, dog mascots are great for interaction and delivering an important message, such as safety around the workplace or on the streets.

On the opposite scale (and I’m thinking mainly sports clubs and play Primal PR Special Agent Hcentres with this one), dogs can also be cheeky, energetic, curious and lovingly mischievous, acting up and generally being entertaining. This makes them a great choice for a costume character that interacts with younger crowds. We’ve made dogs for charities, police forces, football teams and many more. The popularity of the canine costume character never fades.

Inanimates

Yoghie SwirlyQuite a broad category but an important one nevertheless, Inanimate costume characters as a whole make up a significant number of the costumes we create each year. Mainly used for advertising specific products or services, clients have certainly not let their imagination get in the way of creating the ideal mascot for their needs. Before we discuss it further, let’s have a quick re-cap over what an inanimate costume character actually is. An inanimate costume is a costume with few or no moving parts, made to be in most cases larger than life and an exaggerated version of the original item.

Great examples of inanimate costume characters we have made in the past are: a giant potato, a giant mobile phone, giant balls of Touch WudWool, and possibly my personal favourite, Pvt. Touchwood Sweetheart, the official Touch Wud mascot we made to commemorate the centenary of the 1st World War back in 2014. This list could go on for ever as there are so many amazing examples of inanimate characters we have made but I’ll let you explore the costumes on our website for yourself. A great advertising tool and a real talking point for potential customers, inanimate mascots are a fantastic way of putting your product at the forefront of people’s minds. What better way than having your giant snack bar shaking hands and interacting with customers? It’ll certainly be a memorable experience selfridges-wool-weekfor them and one they won’t forget no matter how short the interaction (providing your character has been well designed of course). Large and small companies alike have commissioned pieces to go alongside promotional tours, attend meet and greets or even just to be part of a promotional display, since these characters don’t necessarily need to be worn and can be created to be displayed as a statue without a wearer.

 

So there we have it, our top five most popular costume character shapes. Although these are here to give you some food for thought into what type of mascot you could have, there are many other shapes that make fantastic costumed characters so don’t count anything out until you’ve given it some proper thought.

 

The most important aspect of creating your costume character is the initial design stage. Spend time thinking about what it is you want to show. Is it company values or a specific product? What message are you looking to deliver and who do you want to deliver it to? Does your company already have a Logo mascot that could be turned into a costume? With these simple considerations in mind, all it takes is a little bit of imagination. If you’re feeling stuck then give us a call. We’ve got a wealth of experience in designing characters for a range of industries so there’s a good chance we can point you in the right direction and produce the perfect character for your needs.

If you’re after something a little different to those mentioned above. Please browse through our costumes pages as we’ve got plenty of ideas to inspire. 🙂

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Fur, sweat and tears: what it really takes to be a mascot

The mascot school

I recently re-discovered a video that I had watched a number of months ago about mascot culture in Japan. It focusses on a wonderful lady called Choko Oohira and her mascot school in Tokyo, where she teaches people from all walks of life on the fundamentals of performing as a mascot, and the rules you need to follow in order to maintain the true identity of the character you are portraying.

The energy and enthusiasm of the students and the passion Choko Oohira has for her job really is inspiring and a tad contagious… This short video really got me thinking; what does it ACTUALLY take to become a mascot? I mean anyone can physically put on a furry costume and ‘horse’ around, but what about those who consider it a profession, or those who are interested in becoming a successful mascot in the future? What do they do to stand out from the crowd (apart from wear a giant furry costume) and make it a performance to remember? It’s a lot more involved than you think…

 

Japanese mascot culture

As the capital of the Costume Character, we’ll start our journey in Japan (also because it fits in nicely with the introduction to this blog) where mascots play an important part in advertising the local culture… and practically anything else that could possibly have a mascot…ever.

There are various styles of mascot character in Japan and one of the most popular and more recent style of costume is Yuru-Chara. Yuru-Chara mascots are created to promote local areas of interest, cities, regions, businesses or events. They are characterised by a combination of cuteness, unrefined designs and accessories or features depicting local produce, culture or landmarks. Yuru-Chara mascots are big business in Japan (a $16billion industry and growing) and many of them have their own merchandise, anime series and are known globally like the ever popular Kumamon, who was created by the Kumamoto Prefecture (region/district) to draw tourists to the area. Yuru-Chara costumes have their own specific rules to adhere by. These are:

  1. It must convey a strong message of love for one’s hometown or local region
  2. The character’s movements or behaviour should be unique and unstable or awkward
  3. The character should be unsophisticated or laid-back (yurui) and lovable

These 3 simple rules define how these characters are made and how they perform in public. In order to become a Yuru-Chara character mascot, you must be able to abide by these rules and perform within the boundaries of these statements. It takes a lot of determination and creativity to be energetically awkward, lovable and unique in your movements but that can be the make or break of a good performance. Although specific to Yuru-Chara, these rules start to form the basis of what it takes to be a good mascot; entertaining, individual and passionate for the cause.

Mascots across the globe

So let’s leave Japan and talk more generally about mascots across the globe. Playing the part of a Costumed Character is hard, hot and tiring work but ultimately very rewarding if it is done right. Being the centre of attention, all eyes are on your character and it is important to protect the identity of the brand you are portraying. A code of conduct should keep you in line with the core values and beliefs of a brand character, but even without one, a little bit of common sense will keep your character within the ethical boundaries and context of an event. For example, a mascot could act differently at a corporate meet and greet to how it would act a children’s party (although we’re all just big kids really!) and should tailor its performance to suit the audience. Being astute, having the ability to assess a situation and adapt are important factors of a successful performance.

Interaction with an audience also demands a lot of respect from the performer, knowing when to push and when to back off can be a little tricky to read in a big furry costume with limited visibility but this consideration should always be in the back of the performers mind. Playing a joke is only funny when everyone is laughing. Some people can feel self-conscious when being ‘laughed at’ and as a mascot, you need to be aware of this so you can quickly deflect a situation or focus on something/someone else to avoid embarrassing or hurting anyone’s feelings.

A lot of mascot wearers are volunteers, helping out a local cause by turning up and entertaining the crowd. It’s a well-known fact that having a costumed character turn up to a charity event actually increases the amount of donations given by the public but it takes a very special type of person to give up a day of their time to stand in a hot and heavy costume for a good cause. This leads me to my final trait of what it actually takes to be a mascot and in my opinion it’s up there at the top of the list. That important trait is that of a big heart. I personally have nothing but respect for the people that volunteer time to help out local causes with nothing but the satisfaction that they are doing their bit for the cause and with no other payment than a thank you for a job well done….

What it REALLY takes

So, just to re-cap, here’s what I believe it takes to be a good mascot:

  • Be entertaining
  • Be individual
  • Be passionate
  • Be astute
  • Be adaptable
  • Be respectful
  • Have a big heart.

Now a lot of you will notice that I have purposefully avoided talking about the usual physical traits that you see in every other article about how to ‘wear’ a mascot and how to ‘act like a mascot’ etc etc. I can send you a checklist if that’s what you want to know and if you follow it, you’ll learn the basic moves and become a competent mascot wearer. This article isn’t about that. It’s about the type of person and the mental attitude that it takes to become a successful costumed character and ultimately create successful character performances. I believe that the physical side of wearing a costume character can be learnt by just about anyone. Exaggerating your movements, keeping quiet, warming up are all things that can be taught at places like Choko Oohira’s mascot school in Tokyo, but what sets People like Choko Oohira and many other mascot wearers apart is the infectious mental attitude, passion and enthusiasm that spills out of their performance.

A big thank you!

We at Costumes with Character would like to say thanks to you the performer, the beating heart of our industry and the reason why mascots are more popular today than they have ever been. It’s because of your hard work that we’re still in business 30 years on….

If you feel inclined, please have a look through our gallery of costumes and remember that behind every amazing mascot is an equally amazing wearer.

You can visit our costume gallery here.

Video credit to Great Big Story.

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Jargon buster: ten terms to talk like mascot-makers

Every industry has its own technical terms and the costumed character business is no different. Learn to talk the mascot talk and gain insight into some of the lingo we mascot-makers speak with our no-nonsense jargon-busting list:

Full-fur

Sue Sherriff Fox This corresponds to the body of the mascot. A full fur body is effectively a mascot without clothes covered head to toe in, you’ve guessed it, fur. This gives a more realistic animal look and is great for re-creating a traditional Teddy Bear for example. After all, how many real animals have you seen wearing a t-shirt and shorts (no need to answer the question as I’m sure some of you will have experienced the wonderment that is a dog in clothes).

Full-fur costumes are a little hotter to wear and are less flexible than their half-fur counterpart when it comes to changing branding for example. Warning, adding clothing to a full fur mascot can cause wearers to overheat so for most cases, we recommend a half-fur suit if your character is wearing clothes

Half-fur

Partington Primary School Patch Owl As with full-fur, this corresponds to the body of the mascot and is a lighter weight alternative for characters in clothes. In this instance, the body comprises of fur arm gloves and fur legs attached to a mesh adjustable vest that sits over the padding and under the costume clothing.

This option is a versatile choice in many ways; Firstly, the costume can accommodate a number of different wearer heights thanks to the adjustable vest. Full fur costumes usually have a limited height range for wearers (5ft 7″ – 5ft 9″ for example) whereas half-fur is much more flexible. Secondly, half-fur is great for those people who change branding regularly as it is much easier and more cost effective to refresh a range of clothes than it is to replace a full mascot to match your new brand colours.

Plastazote

plastazote One of the many materials used by mascot makers to create shaped body parts and heads, plastazote (or plas as it is sometimes referred to) is a polyethylene foam that is tough but light and easy to cut. Plas is used for packaging, sports padding, swimming floats and many other household items as well as creating amazing mascots.

Here we use it because of its strong yet malleable composition and also because it reacts well to heating and gluing, allowing you to create complex shapes with a sturdy structure. One downside to this material is that it isn’t very breathable so we try to make sure that each plas head or body shape is well ventilated using a combination of coolmax suits and fans and mesh openings.

ABS Plastic

Lego Bricks To give it its proper name, Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (now you see why we call it ABS) is an engineering plastic that is impact resistant, strong, stiff and can be moulded into practically any shape using a cast due to its flexibility when heated and to approximately 105 degrees celsius. This makes it perfect for creating mascot heads when identical multiples of the same shape are required.

Vac forming is the process of creating a template of your design in wood, fibreglass or plastazote, then heating and moulding the ABS plastic to that shape. This facilitates the creation of identical items when making a run of costumes. ABS is lightweight, easy to machine and can be painted on and glued to with no issues, making it the perfect material when creating amazing mascot heads.

Inanimate

Mac Mug This is the term we give to a mascot costume that has no moving parts and is based around an object rather than an animal or a human. For example, a jigsaw piece, a building or an item of food could be classed as an inanimate costume. These usually have a rigid structure made of plastazote for the main body, with leg and arm holes so the character can move around and interact with their audience.

Almost any shape is possible and we are lucky to have a specialist team that can work wonders with any design you may have for your character.

Humanoid

Pirate with sword This sounds like something you’d expect to see on Star Trek but it’s a bit more varied than just cyborgs and aliens. Humanoid is the term we give to a mascot that has a traditionally more human shape than the animal or inanimate mascots regularly seen promoting brands.

Humanoids tend to have larger than life human characteristics and are cartoon like in appearance. Noddy or Thames Valley Paramedic Bob for example would be humanoid characters as they appear human in form but caricature like in their design.

Underbody

The underbody of a costume character is what gives it a shape. This is usually a separate garment that is put on before the main body of the mascot and can include padding or hoops to give form to the torso area of the mascot.

Whether it be a tubby tummy for a cuddly bear or the six pack on a cyber-human, this padding can really make a difference to the aesthetics of the outfit. However, all this additional padding can create a lot of warmth for your wearer and there are things that can be done to lessen the discomfort if performing for a lengthy time. These will be discussed further below.

Coolmax suit

coolmax Coolmax is a moisture wicking technical fabric that we offer to keep costume wearers dry and comfortable during long shows. It draws sweat and moisture away from the body and down the fabric fibres to the outside of the garment where it dissipates into the environment.

Used by major sports and clothing brands around the world, it is much more breathable than standard cotton and can be woven into other materials to increase their breathability. Here we use Coolmax Lycra to create a thin and breathable layer for maximum comfort.

Head Fan

Used to circulate the air inside larger mascot heads, these small fans are an optional extra that can increase the length of time a wearer is able to perform in their costume. Physically attached to the mascot head, the battery-powered fan is lightweight and discreet, allowing your wearer to entertain the audience in comfort without cumbersome electronics poking out of their costume.

Cool vest

For the most part, vests aren’t cool. Picture Rab C Nesbitt in his string number and you’ll see what I mean…. Our vests however are cool, or more accurately cooling. The Cool Vest is worn under the body of the mascot and has a number of ice packs inserted into pockets around the garment that keep the wearer chilled to perfection inside the hot costume.
cool vest
Re-useable and very effective, the Cool Vest is one of our more popular optional accessories, especially for characters in hotter climates, such as the UAE or America where the temperature can soar above the dizzying 10 degrees celsius we experience here in the UK…

This list is by no means definitive but should give you a basic understanding of what to expect when mascot makers come back to you with design suggestions. It will give you the knowledge to make a well-educated decision on whether or not something is right for you and possibly even some ideas that you may not have had.
 

If you are ready to turn your ideas into a plastazote inanimate or half-fur humanoid, then head on over to our quotes page.
After reading this article you should know exactly what I mean….

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The top five mascot accessories

Naked Bear

Here at CWC, we regularly see mascots walk out of the door naked, (sometimes physically, not just metaphorically) which is fine and if that is what a client wants, then that is what a client will get, and they always look amazing (obviously) regardless of attire.

However, adding mascot accessories can really open up additional opportunities and will allow you to fully maximise the use of your furry friend and in turn increase your brand awareness out amongst the public. It can also freshen up an already established costume character, giving them a new personality or a fresh promotional purpose.

In this article, I will give you a couple of suggestions that will hopefully get you thinking about what else you can add to your mascot to get the most out of it:

1. Christmas hat

A ChristmaFestive bear Christmas hats hat is a great way to inject some seasonal fun into your furry friend. Whether it be a bear, dog, rabbit, cat, alien or anything else, your character will benefit from having a change of accessories to correspond with the season.

Don’t just limit yourself to Christmas, there are many other festive holidays through the year that you can accessorise for, such as Easter. Perhaps a lovely Easter bonnet? Thinking more about Halloween? A witch’s hat or a pair of devil horns always goes down well at this time of year. Want your bear to help celebrate Hanukah? Add a Kippah, the possibilities are endless.
Top hat Bear

Adding something as simple as a hat can really breathe new life into your costume and keep it relevant all through the year.

2. Alternative branded t-Shirts

Does your company or character perform at different events throughout the year? Instead of T-Shirt design 1having one branded t-shirt (which is a popular choice for many creations), why not refresh it to correspond to each event?

T-shirts are a fantastic way of breathing new life into your company mascot and a great way for your business to advertise specific information to the masses, or update a company logo.

You can choose different colours, sizes and shapes of shirt, you can have it printed on or a vinyl sticker created it’s up to you. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination so think of the shirt as a blank canvas and build your idea around existing information or a completely new design that you like.

3. Gender-specific clothing

Bear in dressHere’s an idea… Turn your boy bear into a girl bear with a lovely pink dress.

A large portion of mascots are typically gender neutral, unless otherwise specified by the client. We make boy mascots and girl mascots in both humanoid and animal form that can be easily distinguished, but for the most part a cuddly character can be either male or female depending on what you accessorise them with.
Bear Hoodie

A second set of clothes can make your mascot much more flexible, effectively allowing you to have two mascots for the price of one. This is especially useful for entertainers who can tailor their costumes to a specific event. For example, a princess party may require a character in a pink tutu, but a superhero party may require capes and masks to appear more macho.

A change of outfit is the most cost effective way to cater to both of these needs.

4. Different heads with different expressions

SnowFace 1As we are going down the list, the ideas for your mascot accessories are becoming more complex and will require additional thought. However, adding an additional head to your mascot is still a great alternative to creating a full new version of your old Costume.

There are many advantages to having different heads for your hairy headliner, and in a similar way to SnowFace 2changing the t-shirt, it can give a fresh new look to a range of different situations. Expressions and hairstyles are two that instantly come to mind when choosing a head style.

Sometimes a character should be cheeky, or at times the character could be happy, or sad or any other emotion that brings about a change in facial appearance. They could have long hair, short hair, dyed hair or anything but the idea that this is the only expression and hair style your character will have can sometimes make the final approval of a design a daunting task.
SnowFace 3

Why not save on the stress and think about budgeting for a variety of different heads that are suitable across a range of engagements? In this case, two heads really are better than one….

5. The ultimate mascot accessory

Now we come to the last point in this brief list and to, in my opinion, the ultimate Lollo and BernieCostume character accessory. The world is awash with popular duos, ever since the days of Laurel and Hardy and the creation of superheroes, there has always been a sidekick.

Even Batman, the most solitary of superheroes had a Robin…. So why not make your character a sidekick or partner to perform with?

The crowning jewel of all mascot accessories, this route has become increasinSparky and Sparklegly popular across the globe. The trend for a second mascot to join the team has been more apparent, especially in the world of sports, with many of the UK’s top football teams now having a male and female mascot to entertain the crowds.

A double act opens up endless possibilities when it comes to audience interaction. A duo can cause double the mischief, ham it up with slapstick and get round a meet and greet much faster than a single character on their own.

It also opens up scope for additional marketing, creating stories around your characters and using them as a means to portray a message to the masses through an acted sequence or short animation on a website for example.

So now you have our top five list of mascot accessories it should have given you some food for thought and will certainly open up a world of possibilities for you and your brand.

Be it hats, clothes, promotional items, heads or full characters, think about ways to get more out of your mascot, increasing shelf life and keeping it current for many years to come.

If all of this has caused you a conundrum and you don’t know if it’s right for your particular character, then give us a call and we’ll be more than happy to help. Our team can advise and offer you an experienced and honest opinion.

After all, we have been making mascots for over 30 years…

Head on over to our costumes page to get some ideas of how you can accessorise your costumed character.

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Making your mascot masterpiece – three design considerations

Recently, in our post titled Fur, Sweat and Tears, we discussed what it takes to be a great mascot.

Being astute, entertaining and passionate were some of the key criteria in the ability to perform successfully, along with other physical attributes; but these I felt held less importance as they could be achieved over time with regular performances and a little bit of personal motivation to improve fitness, which has always been a challenge for me…

So I thought this time we’d talk about what actually MAKES a good mascot. Not the physical process of manufacture, which I’ll approach in another blog at a later time, but more around character design considerations when thinking about the actual Costume itself from a promotional point of view. Of course, as with everything there are exceptions to the rule so look at this more as inspiration to give you a starting point when entering the world of the costumed character.

Making it Memorable

If you search the web for mascot design blogs, you’ll eventually come to find that the majority of these posts deal with the creation of a mascot character for your brand or Logo in graphical form. This is a great place to start if you don’t already have a character in mind. Some of these blogs briefly guide you through the design process and considerations for eye catching and simple designs, often giving examples of successful characters and the reasons behind why they work.

Business Insider article on brand mascot design

This article from 2012 goes through a small selection of the more memorable international brand mascots, and gives some of the reasoning behind why they are successful. The general consensus is that the character re-enforces the company message, personifying (or anthropomorphising) the company’s (or product’s) values and beliefs.

snap-crackle-and-pop-cleanOne of the examples briefly mentioned in the article is Snap Crackle and Pop from the popular cereal brand Kelloggs. The names of these characters represent the appealing sound made by Rice Krispies whilst the appearance of the cheeky little elves, with their bold, contrasting colours appeals more to children, giving the cereal a persona and physical appearance they can relate to. A real testament to great character design, Snap, Crackle and Pop have been with us since the early 1930’s, obviously with slight adjustments to keep them fresh and current throughout the decades.

What makes these 3 little elves so successful is that they are memorable characters that have stood the test of time. Mention Snap, Crackle and Pop to someone and they will know exactly what product you are talking about without ever using the product name. For Kelloggs, this is mission complete. Michelin Man, Nesquik Bunny, Mickey Mouse and many others are pinned to the forefront of our minds because they are well thought out and easy to remember characters, irrespective of the multi-million-pound marketing campaigns behind them. Starting off with a good character design is key to the success of your costumed compadre, so take time to consider your original character artwork, the message you want to portray and who you are targeting your message at.

Personality

happy-duck-clean-webSo once you have thought about your memorable mascot and have an idea of what it is you want to create, the next step is to give it some character. Think about your character’s personality and how you would like to portray the sentiments of your business, club or charity to a wider audience of people, some of which will already know your business but the majority may not. This could be your chance to make a lasting impression so getting this right is key to its success.

sad duckOne way to give your mascot a personality, is through the art of expression, and I don’t mean freeform dance (although a dance routine for your costumed character isn’t a bad idea), what I actually mean is the expression on your furry friend’s face. Designers for high profile mascot campaigns spend countless hours, if not days experimenting with various eye and mouth positions to make sure that they are getting the right message across and ensuring their Mascot fits the characteristics of the company. For example, a Halloween based character may have more of a scowl than a smile but it’s all about context.

CreeperOf course, not all mascots have facial features as some can be inanimate objects, or the traditional teddy bear type. In this instance, think more about how your character moves, what they should and shouldn’t do, what they are wearing and how your character interacts with its audience. For example, a football club mascot may be mischievous and active on the pitch, whereas a mascot for a respected high end shop would want to portray itself with a little more decorum…for the most part… The main thing is to make your mascot interesting. It doesn’t necessarily need to be liked (as it could be portraying a villainous character) as long as it does what you set out for it to do.

Customisation is Key

harrods meerkatCustomising your characters appearance to include physical accessories or clothing emblazoned with a company logo for example is a great way to get your message shown to the masses. Not only to the immediate audience, but to people right across the world via the medium of the internet. Over 1 Trillion (1,000,000,000,000 to put it in numbers) photos and videos are taken annually and the vast majority of these find their way on to the internet. Mascots make great talking points and photos of your character are almost certain to end up on the World Wide Web.

Making sure that your brand message is clear and visible to everyone, either through your memorable character design or through other forms of customisation is paramount in catching the attention of potential customers and creating an interest in your brand. Customising your character also makes it unique and specific to your needs allowing you to really get behind it as the face of your company. If you’re struggling for ideas as to how you can customise your mascot, have a look at our Top 5 accessories here.

Memorable design, personality and customisation – the three buzz words to think about when creating your character design. As long as these are taken into consideration, your bear, alien, humanoid or whatever it is you choose to create will stand out from the crowd and shout your message louder than any megaphone possibly could. There’s nothing wrong with looking at other characters for inspiration, of course there are many Lions, tigers and bears out there but just make sure you personalise your character so that it is relevant to you, your business, sports club or charity.