Brand characters have proven effective across many categories and media to create cut-through and build brands. Choice of brand character is often intuitive rather than strategic or logical. Brand characters should both be consistent and stay fresh over time.

Definition

A brand character is a non-celebrity, animate being. It can be human or non-human and is used to promote a product or service. Non-human characters include animals (real or animated), mythical creatures or product personifications. Characters can symbolise the user, the product or its action, or the issue the brand addresses.

Key insights

1. Brand characters in long-running campaigns build the business

‘Fluent devices’ – such as brand characters or slogans - used as the primary vehicle for drama in an ongoing campaign can help quick brand recognition. System 1 Research has found that campaigns using ‘fluent devices’ – of which about half use brand characters – drive market share and profit by more than +20% versus all long-term campaigns. Character-led campaigns are particularly strong in generating new customers and reducing price sensitivity. Brand-owned characters are more effective long-term than ‘hired’ characters such as celebrities. System 1, the marketing research and effectiveness company, estimate that the “surplus emotional response” created by ads featuring brand characters is worth 8-12% points in share of voice – a significant increase in potential in market impact without extra cost.