There was a collective ‘thump’ heard around the world this Tuesday as the technology world’s jaw hit the floor at the eye-watering $27.7 billion paid by Salesforce to acquire Slack.
There’s enough literature out there on the interwebs around the ramifications of this deal. But the thing that stuck out to me was this Instagram post from the software company when announcing the deal. Why? Because of Astro.
Developing a mascot to personify your brand is not unheard of in marketing. The Michelin Man, Jolly Green Giant, Tony the Tiger, Julio Pringles, Colonel Sanders – these are characters recognised the world over to represent some of the most-loved B2C brands.
But in B2B? Much more of a rarity. And that’s where Salesforce bucks the trend.
Developed in 2014 originally for a t-shirt to be given away at the company’s Developer Week, Astro, the gender non-binary space explorer, has gone on to become a stalwart across much of the marketing at Salesforce. They are meant to represent the themes of community and inclusion, an illustration of the company’s equality values.
And they are not alone. They have since been joined by Codey the Bear, who inspires makers everywhere to build great things, Appy the Bobcat, who encourages entrepreneurs everywhere to live their dreams and many more characters who all inhabit and explore the fictional land of Salesforcelandia.
So, why develop a mascot?
- They embody your values. With a mascot, you are able to immediately project your goal, mission and purpose in the world without saying a single word.
- They make for great storytelling. You can use them to engage and entertain your audience on social media in ways other corporate brands can only dream of.
- They enable an emotional connection. Without a face, you are simply another brand logo in a sea of brand logos. A mascot gives your brand personality and stickability.
- They make good merch. What’s more exciting – this or this?
In today’s B2B world, where the noise of bland case study after bland case study is deafening, anything that can give a company a personality should be considered. That’s not to say everyone needs to go out and satisfy their unfulfilled childhood dreams of creating cartoons for their brand. But done right, mascots are a good way to build an emotional connection with your customers.
Why is this important? Because B2B customers have a lot at stake when they buy from your business. Your product isn’t something that can be discarded easily if it doesn’t work. When a B2B buyer invests in your business, they’re putting their name and career on the line often in the form of thousands (sometimes even millions) of dollars. So when they make a decision, they don’t do so lightly.
So while a mascot may not be the factor that tips the scale in favour of a purchase, it can at least convince a buyer that your company is worth consideration.