How Can a Brand Hero Save Your Startup?

With low prices and high quality of service universally expected, it has become extremely difficult for startups to compete with the big players, differentiate, and effectively appeal to the target audience in ways other than with genuine creativity and unique character. Essentially – to save your startup from falling into the limbo of similar companies that failed.

Not convinced? Here’s the kicker:

We’re seeing dozens of hours worth of youtube videos uploaded every single minute, 300 million tweets per month, and 4 billion shares on Facebook. Considering this, do you still think you can effectively stand out without a paradigm shift and a pinch of creativity?

For startups, the ability to reach out to new markets and establish a deeper, more personal relationship is the most coveted skill that a business can employ.

Here’s a list of reasons why a brand hero can help you do that and save your business today:

Tap into your clients’ emotions

When lacking external expertise, clients are rarely able to choose competently from a number of potential contractors offering similar services. This is where, on top of good pricing and the technology you use, emotions come into play. When the choice is difficult, people often demonstrate affinity to brands which they like and can easily identify with.

Apart from offering great quality of service, you should also consider ways to interact with your brand on a more personal level.

To achieve this, there is no better way than using a proper, likeable brand hero. An advertising character, a mascot – call it what you please. A cartoon animal, a plush toy, or some other embodiment of brand features that works for you may be the right step towards the evolution of your brand image.

Long story short: there is no way you can make people genuinely love your new startup without a cute human-like character.

Make the brand hero represent your values

Choose a brand hero that represents your values and resonates in people’s minds.

If your brand was a real person or an animal, what would it most likely be? What would it be wearing? If it’s a t-shirt, make it show your logo.

A distinctive feature of a Polish software house RST IT, for example, is the company’s anteater, a cartoon character which the company is extensively using in all their marketing efforts – from printed materials and blog, to their social media.

On the face of it, the anteater has nothing to do with software, but the popular “I got this” meme that it stems from, is the right association. What the character basically says is “your search is over. We’re the company that has got you covered for all your web & mobile app needs and problems. Leave it to us and worry no more”. I.e.: we are competent and friendly.

Who’d have thought a software house might actually light a little bit of fire in people’s hearts?

Boost your social media performance

The social power behind company mascots is undeniable. According to digital marketing advisors Convince and Convert, Facebook posts which include images of brand characters have substantially more shares than the same posts lacking brand characters.

Brand characters personify businesses and drive action from the followers by their personality, likeability, and familiarity which, incidentally, rank extremely high as constituents of true uniqueness on the internet.

Create unique, entertaining visuals

A brand character can take some spotlight when it’s impossible to differentiate your product or service from the competition. Let it put on a show and entertain people.

A brand hero is also an instant (and free) model for all your marketing activities. If it’s a real-life plush character you had tailor-made for you, you can easily photograph it in various business interactions to produce amazing visuals. Make the character go on holiday, take selfies, answer phones. Add image filters and voila – your marketing material is ready for sharing.

Portray it in various social situations that make your company more human and gain some elegant, uniform appeal. Make it sport a t-shirt with your company logo to bring further association with the brand. Images like this can substitute all this uninspiring stock photography flooding corporate blogs and social media profiles nowadays.

Everybody has seen that before – businesses churning out series of boring, unengaging posts or links dubiously adorned with grinning people exchanging handshakes.

Just remember, with prices falling and clients increasingly fickle, there’s nothing more valuable than some uniqueness to add to your marketing mix.

Bottom line: down with these boring screenshots and stock photos! There is nothing worse than running your corporate social media channels which lack character, or worse, such that look like any other company profile out there.

Spice up all your content

Chances are, after all, that your product is much less exciting to people than you can imagine. Especially considering tech startups or software development agencies. Using a brand hero is a good way to crank it up a bit, add some color, life and uniqueness.

Your brand character can reshape all your online marketing strategy, from website design, blog content, to landing pages and make it truly outstanding.

Whether you’re selling sprouts or software, a smart use of cartoon characters may be the only way for you to create entertaining, engaging and shareable content for seemingly uninteresting products. Just consider big brands like Cheetos, M&M’s or Michelin.

Align your brand character with your content goals

Developing a character gives fans an idea of what to expect from you without even having to read all your content. It sets the friendly, welcoming tone for all your marketing. And don’t be fooled: adults love cartoons too.

But, most importantly – it works.

Olson Zaltman & Associates, an agency that helped to redesign Cheetos’ brand, found that “adults were looking for permission to not act their age and not conform to the expectations of adult behavior.”

The results of using a brand character were truly impressive as, according to IRI, Cheetos’ sales increased by 11.3%, almost double the target rate of 6.4%.

If you liked this article, you might also be interested in "How can a good app documentation help you when working with a software house?".

That’s some food for thought for today. Over to you, and have a nice week!

Questions? Comments? If you are considering launching your own tech startup, feel free to drop us a line below or pop me an email at k@rst-it.com. We're ready to help.