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Masks in marketing: key benefits and our case study

A successful branding strategy requires recognition. However, in niches that offer products that are difficult to understand, such as analytical tools for trading, this task is not so easy. And in such cases, creating a mascot is a great solution to ensure your brand’s associativity and visibility.

A mascot is a visual representation of a company, a character that symbolizes products or services and helps to attract customers.

As you may have guessed, in this case study, we will tell you about our experience in creating an image of a company assistant for traders.

Project: NDA, fintech startup, AI for traders

CMO of the project is Krystyna Gladunova.

The service is a remote marketing department.

Navigating the case:

Approximate time to study the case is 10 minutes.

Our team

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Developing a brand image is only part of a comprehensive service — a remote marketing department. In this case study, we will focus on the importance and process of developing a mascot for further use in systematic promotion.

The first stage. Identification of project needs and features

We started working on the project on (date) when the product was still in development. So our team’s efforts were focused on preparing for a successful release.

Usually, the idea of creating a character goes through many stages of development: from concept, image selection, visual style, a number of iterations of edits and approvals, animation, voice acting, and the release itself. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to spare, as the speed of implementation was important for the release. In addition, the project, like any startup, had a limited budget. So we needed a good solution with the ability to implement it quickly. 

We cannot mention the company’s name, but we will explain its specifics. The company’s product is a personal assistant based on artificial intelligence that helps to make profitable deals in trading. The main challenge for us was to implement the formula:

Brand + target audience = mutual understanding and established communication.

A brand representative was needed to communicate with the audience at all stages of interaction. At the same time, the authors of the development could not ensure regular online activity on their own. So we set out to create a character that would be easy to remember, provide clear communication, and maintain interest.

What functions was the mascot supposed to perform?

— Ensure online presence in different communication channels simultaneously.
— Adhere to the Tone of Voice.
— Facilitate the perception and understanding of the product.
— Become a symbol of the brand, convey the essence of the project, and create a lasting association.
-— Increase audience engagement and interest.

The second stage. Developing a character concept

After identifying the needs and features of the startup, we moved on to the practical part of creating the mascot. We started working on the character when the topic of artificial intelligence was at its peak. People were interested in communicating with AI representatives. Therefore, the current image had to engage users better than just tech support or an impersonal interface. 

And the personalization of the company’s character was supposed to help bring customers closer to the brand. According to our plan, in the future, the character will act as a brand representative in communication on the main promotion platforms and on the website. He will explain complex analytics concepts and technical aspects in simple words in his own unique style. We took all this into account when developing the concept.

The team had a clear goal:

— identify the main features of the character;
— assign a personality archetype;
— describe the nature of communication and interaction with the audience.

In simple terms, at this stage, the Solve Marketing team answered the question: what is this brand image like?

Description of the character

Taking into account the peculiarities of the niche and target audience, we developed the main features for the character. To better cope with the task, we imagined that it was a real person. 

So we endowed the image with intelligence, an extraordinary mathematical mindset, and knowledge of philosophy. The character always has something to say, his opinion is unbiased, and he is not shy about being direct. Speaking of recognizability, we do not mean universal love of others. Rather, we mean a clear association between the character and his or her main features that make him or her unique, one of a kind.

Assigning an archetype to a personality

First of all, let’s explain what archetypes are. Archetypes are models of behavior, psychological portraits, qualities, and emotions that characterize the target audience and should be reflected in the brand. It is an auxiliary marketing tool that allows you to better understand your customers and communicate with them in the same language.

Given that the character analyzes large amounts of complex information, he received the Sage archetype. He always strives for objectivity and truth based on knowledge and science, sharing his best practices and experience with people to help them in trading.

Tone of Voive (ToV) of the character’s communication

To maintain the unity of the character, we had to define his manner of communication. We didn’t see the personal trader assistant as just a boring robot with template phrases. To really motivate clients to use it and keep them interested, we gave it an informal tone. So the character shares useful information at the same time, but can also afford jokes, sarcasm, and friendly encouragement. At the same time, it remains an artificial intelligence that knows its purpose: not to do everything for people, but only to help and guide them.

In addition, we gave the character the ability to tell the story of its creation, interesting facts, and share problems and successes. And storytelling is an effective tool for interaction. The mascot’s ability to “create a story” has established an emotional connection between customers and the product.

The third stage. Working on the mascot design

Next, we started thinking about an important question: what should artificial intelligence look like? It could appear in human form or be a robot. But this was not close to the company’s ideas. Before our cooperation, the project already had a prototype of its AI image — a ball. In the course of discussions, we decided to build the character on the basis of this ball. We started with the selection of references. The prototype character looked like this: 

Based on these ideas, we continued to develop the brand image until we got the desired result. The project designer faced three challenges at the stage of developing the character’s look.

1. Technical aspect.

Solve Marketing received the previous character animation from the old website. The thing is that it was written in code. This means that there were no source files for further use. So the designer had to look for ways to recreate the animation from scratch. 

To cope with the task, which was new to us, we made efforts to improve ourselves. By learning and finding different ways of animation, the designer turned the client’s wishes into reality.

2. Further use of the character.

Since the balloon is an inanimate image, it was difficult to give it manifestations of live communication. The character had no face or body, and therefore no emotions or gestures. Therefore, the next challenge was to use the mascot for social networks. We needed a solution to make all publications with the character look different and not duplicate.

Therefore, we tried to diversify the visuals of the posts as much as possible and play on the topic of the post with additional elements.

3. Character voice acting.

In order to give the character the ability to literally talk to the audience, we decided to voice him. Unfortunately, most voice-over services are designed to process English. Thus, when using other languages, we faced the problem of incorrect accentuation, intonation, and reading pauses using punctuation marks.

We also overcame these technical problems of implementation. We managed to correct voiceover errors and make the character’s speech more lively.

As a result of our work, the client received a visual embodiment of the image of a trader’s assistant. This is how the character looked in static: 

And when he was optimized, we got the following animation:

We received feedback from the company’s Product Marketing manager after completion of cooperation. Follow the link to find out what our client thinks.

Do you want to see the character in action? Here’s how he communicates with the company’s audience on social networks. It should be noted that the mascot speaks the language of the enemy, as the messages are aimed at the audience of expats in Europe and Kazakhstan. The customer has nothing to do with the aggressor country.

Conclusions

A mascot is a powerful marketing tool that can make a company’s communication attractive, involve and retain the target audience, and form a clear association with the brand.

Developing such a character for a fintech startup required not only creativity but also a strategic approach, serious analytical work, and the need for training from the Solve Marketing team. 

We coped with the professional challenge and formed an associative image for the company, as well as brought the interaction with the audience to a higher level.

This case study describes only a small part of our cooperation with this project. We have many more insights that we want to share with you in the future. In order not to miss interesting marketing news, we invite you to subscribe to our social networks and email newsletter.

Do you want to ensure effective communication of your brand with the help of a character? We invite you to a free consultation with our marketing specialist.



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