As the Hubert the Lion from BMO Harris Bank makes his final farewell in 2023, it’s clear that some bank mascots are heading towards the door. But why? Once a prominent part of a bank’s brand, mascots were seen at events of all kinds, dressed up as “friendly animals or fuzzy corporate logos,” according to American Banker. “They attended branch openings, baseball games, and community gatherings alongside lifelong clients and potential customers.” For a time, there was a plethora of them – from TD’s square-headed character to Chase the Dog, and even a couple of pigs named Penny and Benny.
As much as we all like to see a grown adult dressed up in a costume – just take a look at Gritty’s popularity, after all – many banks and credit unions seem to have evolved past them as representations of their brand. Our own informal polling on the topic revealed the same trend with only 10% of respondents saying bank mascots “distinguish the brand.” In fact, nearly 84% of participants questioned what bank mascots even were. But our survey did find one fun fact: Nearly 4% of people in our poll do like to see mascots pull out some of those “signature dance moves.” Oh, yeah! Thanks, Gritty…
While it’s clear that many brand mascots in financial services are ready for their retirement, the use of brand characters remains a core element of effective brand advertising. In fact, our own recent roundup on Today’s Most Memorable Brand Slogans featured the popular “Jake from State Farm” among the most beloved and enduring brand representations. “When I think of a brand mascot, it’s a person dressed up in a costume,” says Sarah Cenedella, Adrenaline’s Senior Director of Marketing. “Today’s mascot is the brand character.” And brands have a host of characters representing their values, from Allstate’s Mayhem to Geico’s Gecko.
One particularly compelling character that we’re very close to is the UMe Emu. This quirky bird is the perfect manifestation of UMe’s distinctive approach to banking and an effective way to “elevate its brand from being part of the conversation to being the most memorable voice in the room,” as outlined in the case study. The UMe Emu is “a giant cartoon bird, who worked at the highest echelon of global finance before coming to the realization that money should be local and cooperative.” He’s a “truth teller, brand champion and wisenheimer” ready to drop some valuable dollars and sense on you.
Another way financial brands are making their mark is with brand spokespeople. A spokesperson can do a lot to elevate a financial brand. “As an authentic and human representation of your company, a spokesperson can connect with your audience in a unique and meaningful way,” according to Forbes. As the face of your brand, spokespeople should be brand champions in the true meaning of the word. And they don’t all have to be famous to be effective. In fact, one spokesperson became famous because of his brand affiliation: Jeremy Brandt, aka “The Capital One Guy.” He now famously delivers the values of the brand, from the Capital One cafes to the benefits of the app.
So, while we bid farewell to many of these brand mascots in banking, just remember that there is endless creativity to be found in branding – breaking through the noise and connecting with the people that matter most.
To learn more about effective brand and marketing strategies for your bank or credit union, or to speak with one of Adrenaline’s brand experience experts, contact us today. Be sure to also stay tuned in to Believe in Banking as it highlights industry news and views for banking leaders.
Adrenaline is an end-to-end brand experience company serving the financial industry. We move brands and businesses ahead by delivering on every aspect of their experience across digital and physical channels, from strategy through implementation. Our multi-disciplinary team works with leadership to advise on purpose, position, culture, and retail growth strategies. We create brands people love and engage audiences from employees to customers with story-led design and insights-driven marketing; and we design and build transformative brand experiences across branch networks, leading the construction and implementation of physical spaces that drive business advantage and make the brand experience real.