In this project I am challenged by terminology and definitions; what should I call the objects that I am studying. And I am not the only one, because when I read about characters and mascots, there is confusingly many terms and names. Are they:
Stephen Brown sums up the problems about defintions in his article: Animal house: Brand mascots, mascot brands and more besides
I like the term mascot, because that is easy to explain, whereas when you say brand characters you need to explain that it’s not ‘actors’ like Mickey Mouse; Kermit or Minions (unless they are advertising something else than their own movies). But on the other hand mascots tend to be associated more with sports (at least danes think so…)
But I guess that what matters is what something is, not what it is called.
a trade character is a fictional, animate being or animated object that has been created
for the promotion of a product, service or idea
Callcott and Lee, Establishing the Spokes-character in Academic Inquiry: Historical Overview and Framework for Defintion, Advances in Consumer Research 22, 1995.
So I am relying on Callcotts definition and have decided to call them brand characters and is thinking about changing the subtitle of my project to: why and how to design brand characters
But Brown is also pointing to another problem that has has been keeping me awake at night (well, not literally keeping me awake, but yes challenging me) because there seem to be different roles for brand characters or different ways to relate to their brand:
He distinguishes between (the first two categories being by far the most common and relevant distinctions for my study):
Brand animals, where the animal is more an attachment than an intergrated part of the brand
Classic brand mascots support the brand and is deeply integrated into culture and values in the brand in a loyal and faithfull way
Mascot brands – when the mascot is overshadowing the brand
Or even more rare: Animal brands – when beasts become brands themselves
(did you know that Grumpy cat is a real cat known for it’s non-smiling facial features and is an internet celebrity with more than 7 million likes on Facebook! – and it has for example been on the cover of the Wall Street Journal)