Whether it’s Tony the Tiger or the mermaid siren plastered on every Starbucks cup, a strong, even iconic character can intrigue an audience and spur a purchase while enhancing brand loyalty. For Starbucks, the green mermaid is exotic, beckoning, and suprisingly evocative of fresh coffee. For Kellog’s Frosted Flakes, the tiger is wholesome and all-American, meant to cheer up your morning with “greeeeeat” cereal.
But character in the marketing context doesn’t just have to literally be a “character.” The Google logo, for instance, has a personality that has developed into a character in and of itself. The almost universally recognized fruit loop colored letters are simple and playful. The name “Google” also implies the act of looking at something while the two “o’s” in the company name look like eyes. Naturally, we use Google to look for things in an exceedingly simple fashion. We peer through the Google “o’s” and into our computer screen while searching for information.
Moreover, to think of Google employees is to conjure up images of dressed down Californians, playing beer pong while brainstorming, and lounging on bean bag chairs: the contemporary startup ethos. This is all part of the Google story. It forms the bedrock of Google’s successful marketing strategy. In fact, it was so effective that Google built a massive company without advertising for many years.
In storytelling, character development is important, and Google’s logo has done just that. It changes frequently, whether it’s a white, colorless logo after a tragedy or a picture of Martin Luther King on Martin Luther King Day. Google is using images to tell stories or commemorate important events itself – this Jedi warrior trick takes storytelling and characters to a whole new level, building character from a character. Here is a mix of various Google logos.
Another interesting and iconic logo that has become a character for a brand is the Rolling Stones’ big red lips. The lolling tongue is emblazoned on their CD’s, t-shirts, and sometimes even concert stages. Symbolic of Mick Jagger’s big, full lips, it is sexy, raucous, racy, ruby red, and encapsulates all that is 60s rock-n-roll. It’s a logo that builds upon Mick Jagger’s personality. It is an image with character.
Another company that creates a character via storytelling is tentree. The company is located in Canada and endeavors to connect consumers and the environment. For every item sold on the online clothing outlet, the company plants ten trees. In the ad below, the trees were planted in Africa. Tentree’s clothing exudes a rustic but stylish vibe and the company’s connection to the environment is emphasized throughout its website. The striking image in the ad below creates a character. Perhaps, it’s a farmer who has strong, dirty hands but an ability to delicately hold a tightly wrapped clump of seeds, which will one day lead grow into a tree.
Tentree recognizes the value of creating a character to sell your brand, ideas, or products; it is the first step in using storytelling as a means to marketing success.
Stay tuned for the four remaining concepts that meld storytelling and marketing!