Why You Might Need A Mascot

A mascot can be powerful.

If you run a small business, work at an ad agency, or design product packaging, I would encourage you to think about the benefits of  having a mascot to represent the product or service you are selling. A while back I wrote a post summarizing some of the benefits a mascot brings. That post has recently been updated. I invite you to give it a read.

Then, to view samples of characters and mascots I’ve designed for other clients please browse the character design gallery at my website.

If you like what you see and want to talk more about how I can help you, I’ve recently created a simple character design questionnaire for you to use. It’s designed to help you think through your brand message and also to give me a clear idea of what your needs are so that I know the best way to help you. You can also contact me for a free consultation. I’d be happy to hear from you.

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Mascot Contest Winner Announced

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“Mascot Contest 2” officially ended on Friday. A lot of people entered and most identified all the mascots correctly. Those who did were entered in the drawing. I put the entries on slips of paper and my two-year-old daughter picked one out of a baseball cap.

The winner of the mascot contest is David Oldham. Congrats David! You’ll receive a free copy of Eric Goldberg’s new book Character Animation Crash Course!

The correct list of products is:

  1. Mucinex
  2. Progressive Insurance
  3. 9Lives cat food
  4. Booberry cereal
  5. Geico insurance
  6. Michelin tires
  7. Verizon
  8. 7-Up
  9. Kool-Aid
  10. Mr. Clean
  11. Mrs. Butterworth
  12. Wendy’s

It was a lot of fun for me to watch the entries roll in! Thanks to everyone who participated. To those who didn’t win, better luck next time!

Mascot Contest 2

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(EDIT: Contest is now closed. Winner and correct answers here.)

As a character designer I’m fascinated with product mascots. A good mascot, when combined with a strong ad campaign, can be an enormous benefit when promoting a product or service. My favorite freelance projects are when clients hire me to design a mascot or character, either for advertising or animation.

To help illustrate the power of a mascot I thought it would be fun to have another mascot contest, similar to the one I ran last year. A good mascot will help customers instantly recall the name of the product he/she/it represents. Can you name all twelve products/brands represented by the mascots above? (Hint: Some mascots share the same name as their product). Most are fairly well-known, but I’ve thrown in a couple of dated ones to keep it from being too easy.

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If you can correctly identify all twelve products I’ll enter your name into a drawing for a free copy of the book Character Animation Crash Course! by famed Disney animator Eric Goldberg. This is an excellent book for anyone who wants to learn not how to give your animated characters a sense of true personality and life. The book comes with a free CD and is chock full of great info. I happen to own a spare copy, hence this contest.

Remember, to be entered in the drawing you must correctly name the products, not the mascots themselves. The contest deadline is midnight (central time) on Friday, June 12. I’ll announce the winner on Monday, June 15. Send your answers to blog@cedricstudio.com, along with your name, email address, and phone number. Please do NOT leave your answers as a posted comment. Such posts will be deleted.

This is not a scheme to add you to some sort of mailing list. This is just for fun. I promise I’ll only use the info to contact you if you win, and after the contest all the names and email addresses will be deleted from my computer.

Also, to view some of the mascots and characters I’ve designed for various clients don’t forget to visit the “Character Design” page on my website.

So….How many products can you name?

My New Facebook Page

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I’ve had a Facebook account for a while now and have found it to be a terrific way to stay in touch with friends, clients, and other artists. It’s also a great way to meet new people and make stronger connections in the industry. While there’s no substitute for personal one-on-one relationships, Facebook makes it possible for me to stay connected to more people in more ways than I could ever do offline.

As great as Facebook is, there’s one drawback: It’s too easy for my personal and professional life to get blurred. All of my connections are lumped into one big network. My family photos and personal comments to friends are mixed in with blog updates and news about my business. In some ways that’s a good thing. Certain clients and colleagues may appreciate getting to know me on a more personal level. But I have a strong suspicion that others could care less about my personal hobbies or what happened on my vacation. From a marketing standpoint I walk a tricky line on Facebook. Often when I post something personal I catch myself asking, “How might this make me look to a potential client?” Whether that’s a good thing for me to worry about or not is another subject, but it’s one of the realities of being a small business owner in the age of social networking.

So I’m trying an experiment. Facebook has a feature called “Pages” that lets you create a page devoted solely to your business. Large companies like Coca-Cola and Disney use them in an attempt to create a community around their brand and to connect with their customers. But thousands of small business owners also use them to have a more professional presence on Facebook while building a more personal connection with thier clients.

So I’ve created a Facebook page for my illustration business to see if I can’t take better advantage of what Facebook has to offer. For starters the page has samples from my portfolio, my latest blog posts, and a couple of links I’ve found interesting. I’m planning to post news, my latest work, and links I think potential clients or other colleagues will enjoy or find helpful. I’ll also be running a fun contest soon (both here and on the Facebook page) so stay tuned for that. To follow my Facebook page just click on the “Become a Fan” link under my photo.

I’m still trying to figure out exactly where the dividing line will be between my personal and professiona life on Facebook, but I’m having a Page devoted solely to my freelance business should go a long way towards helping me make the best of both worlds.

Any thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Funny Video: Freelancing in the Real World

My friend and fellow illustrator Tom Richmond recently posted this YouTube video on his blog. It’s a hilarious illustration of the ways some clients will try to take advantage of freelancers. Fortunately I don’t run into this kind of thing much anymore. My clients for the most part have been great and treat me like a total professional, and I’ve been at it long enough that I can usually sniff out the bad ones before the project ever gets off the ground. But they are out there and every once in a while someone will try to pull something like this.

If you’re relatively new to freelancing, watching this video might be good therapy:

Incidentally, if you find yourself relating to this video a little too much you might benefit from reading my two-part article, “How To Bid Out A Project”. You might also want to visit the Buiness/Freelancing section of my Recommended Resources list on Amazon.com.

Creative Freelancer Conference Is Coming

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The second annual Creative Freelancer Conference (sponsored by HOW Magazine and Marketing Mentor) will be held in San Diego August 26-28, 2009. I attended last year’s conference in Chicago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Even though I’ve been freelancing for over twelve years I still picked up quite a few tips and tricks. As a result of what I learned I’ve been able to give my clients an even higher level of professional service. I also learned a few ways to boost my bottom line. I only wish this conference had been available back when I started my business.

This year’s lineup of speakers and topics was recently announced. There’s a lot of new stuff that wasn’t on the line-up last year which means I’ll definitely be attending again.

Topics to be covered include:

  • What Will Your Freelance Business Be When It Grows Up? (Petrula Vrontikis)
  • Money-Saving Tax Solutions for Creatives (June Walker)
  • The Essential Rules for Writing and Presenting Proposals (Peleg Top)
  • Effective Presentations for Creative Solopreneurs (Darryl Salerno)
  • Dealing With Nightmare Clients (Michelle Goodman)
  • The Astoundingly Simple Secrets to Making Social Media Work For You (Colleen Wainwright)
  • Freelance Success Panel (moderated by Ilise Benun)
  • Speaker Panel Q&A (moderated by Ilise Benun)
  • Create or Die: Thriving in the Create-On-Demand World (Todd Henry)
  • Workshop: Hands-On Marketing Lab (Ilise Benun)
  • Workshop: The Price Is Right (Lee Silber & Peleg Top)

If you register before July 15 you’ll receive an early-bird discount of $50. Register or get more info at www.creativefreelancerconference.com.