Mo figurine

Creating characters to bring your brand to life

Characters have represented and personified the essence of brands since the early days of advertising. In fact, Mr. Peanut of Planters dates back to 1916. Characters of all kinds—from people to animals to objects, whether real, costumed, or animated—help brands sell their products/services.

Why characters work

Characters give the brand a face and personality, which helps customers form an emotional connection. A good character helps customers remember the brand name; for example, the AFLAC duck or Mr. Clean. Some characters help customers better understand the benefits of the brand by highlighting the unique selling point, such as the Energizer bunny.

What makes characters so effective is their versatility. While great with younger audiences, they have a mass appeal, easily attract attention, and can be used virtually anywhere. Characters make informational content more fun and approachable, they represent an ideal, educate, tell a story, and are even used in games.

YR Man York Region Transit
YR Man, safety hero of York Region Transit

Acart's 2017 Christmas video game
Meg and Greg, Acart’s 2017 Christmas video game characters

How to design a memorable character

A character should be an expression of the brand itself, embodying the physical attributes and personality traits that your brand evokes. As the literal face of your brand, your character must be very expressive, easily conveying emotion through facial expressions and body language.

Memorable character designs are unique, yet simple, with a few key attributes that set them apart. The best characters should be just as recognizable and distinct as small black and white sketches/silhouettes, as in finished, colourized animations.

YRT travellers for safety tip videos
YRT travellers for safety tip videos

The target audience, and how and where the character will appear, should dictate many of the stylistic decisions, such as graphic or illustrative, cartoonish or realistic, etc. After the basic composition, the focus is on capturing the character’s emotion. Most importantly, the audience should identify with the character, so they can form a bond with the message/brand.

Brooke, the home buyer
Brooke, the home buyer

The making of Mo

Mo, the smartphone mascot of Get Cyber Safe (Public Safety Canada’s cyber safety initiative), was born originally as a concept for a mobile security campaign. Mo was so well received, he appeared in several other mobile-based campaigns, such as backup and Wi-Fi. Now Mo is the heart and soul of Get Cyber Safe, and the star of their organic social media content. He even has his own hashtag, #MoMonday, for his weekly cyber tip animations.

Mo enables Get Cyber Safe to demonstrate informational cyber security risks and tips in a lighthearted way. Using various costumes, scenarios, and props, Mo can be our hero fighting off viruses, hanging out with his backup device pals, online shopping for back-to-school, or even teaching digital citizenship. Mo gives Get Cyber Safe a personality, and helps the audience better understand and connect with their message.

Owing to his success, our cyber friend has now entered the physical world as a 3D, bendable model. He’ll travel with Get Cyber Safe for live events, acting as the brand mascot.

For help creating a custom mascot for your brand or using characters in your advertising, contact Acart today!

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