Guest Column - April 2004
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Marketing Musts

Building Your Facility’s Brand from Logos to Mascots

By Mark Schmitz

Delivering on the promise of space

Every resort facility, theme park, sports stadium and private business must create a visual brand plan for the space it occupies. From the parking lot to the rest rooms to the 50-yard line and end zone, you must continue to reinforce your cultural brand promise to your customers. A strong interior graphic design program uses exhibits, public signing, banners, ad panels, themed concessions, landscape architecture and more to surround your guests in your culture. This is critical to retain and maintain your revenue stream.

The renovated Lambeau Field, the "jewel" of the NFL, intercepts you in every inch of its space. From entrance signage to the concourses to the players tunnel and the Hall of Fame, the glory that is Green Bay Packer football has been kept alive for generations to come. The Packer "G" logo (Vince Lombardi and his equipment manager designed it in 1961) is one of the most recognized symbols on earth. It has achieved that status in two ways—time and human values. If your graphic identity can stand the test of time and be associated with a positive human spirit or value, you win—period.

A mascot is born

We all have our favorite mascots whether they are sport, product or service based. The development of a mascot is simply a line extension of your core brand philosophy. You create a character that represents what you are in a life form. The life form is an animation, a way for you to show others how to embrace your brand.

For example, a comprehensive mascot program was developed for the Great Wolf Lodge Resorts. Billed as one of the largest indoor waterparks in the world, Great Wolf Lodge in the Wisconsin Dells has been named best family resort by major magazines and newspapers. The firm has done an excellent job of integrating family fun into the vacation experience. Mascots are a part of that experience. Kids relate perfectly to animals, and the Northwoods-style theme of the resorts inspired the creation of "Biko" the Bear and "Wiley" the Wolf.

In order to fulfill the promise of "creating family memories worth repeating," it was critical that Biko and Wiley have a strong presence throughout every aspect of the resort and in the collateral materials that promote them. The development of an on-site and online Cub Club was a way for kids to interact and learn from their new-found friends. Special game discounts, nature walks and educational activities are all benefits of Cub Club membership. The greatest benefit however for the resort is a continued stream of income due to repeat visits from kids who can't wait to see Biko and Wiley in person.

  • Make sure the character is an extension of your core attributes, values and marketing image.

  • Naming is critical. It must be memorable, have alliteration, and be easily learned and retained. Humor and animation add to the fun.

  • Develop a background story for your mascot(s). Where were they born? What is their favorite foods? Who are their friends? What do they like to do? This gives him or her more personality. Again, humor, entertainment and education are all critical.

  • Give your mascot human characteristics. Accentuate and exaggerate a physical feature.

  • Put him/her everywhere. He/she represents all that is good within your company.

Logos are a great tool to accomplish marketing goals and enhance your corporate image. But good design and functionality are just the first step. Careful quality control and standards and uniform application to all of its uses are essential to build equity in the logo and to make corporate identification a major contributor to present-day and future profitability.

Mark Schmitz is president and creative director of ZD Studios, a full-service brand design firm in Madison, Wis. He can be reached at