It’s not the easiest question to answer. It really depends on if you’re great enough to have one.
There is nothing quite so lame as showing up to your office to find your stuffy boss stuck in a chicken suit, trying to pretend everything is normal, because his boss told him he needs to foster some team spirit among the worker drones. Actually that might be amazing, but I digress.
The Benefits of a Mascot
A mascot can genuinely raise the morale at your workplace and bring people together. This is because it gives people something of a running joke and traditions to share. This could be a chat channel filled with inspirational cat pictures or, if your business doesn’t revolve around the internet, a different representation that you choose for your company. The most important part is that it reflects your company culture.
If you run a coffee shop, a cat may very well be a good choice. It has connotations of comfort, relaxation, and self-indulgence that can help set the mood for your patrons and your employees. If your business model revolves more around river tours and large bodies of water, the mighty kraken, complete with lots of morbid jokes about your service to the creature, ferrying tourists to feed its unending hunger for human flesh, may do a better job of making your employees feel like they are part of something greater.
They key is not to push it so much, but to introduce it and give your people the freedom to run with it. Once it takes off you could create your own t-shirt, print it on a company coffee mug that you hand out, or even get an actual company pet, though that might be hard with a kraken.
Making the Mascot happen
You have to handle your workers the same way you handle a man. You let him think that it was his idea all along. You don’t go up and say, “This is the company mascot I have chosen for you, wear it proudly and serve me faithfully young worker drone.” No. Subtly hang a picture of Epic Cat in the break room, and supplement it with the occasional joke. Once everyone has seen and gotten used to it, make a casual reference to your prospect.
“Hey boss, we want a raise!” say your employees. “Or what, are you going to send Epic Cat over there to eat me? Oh man, he looks mad. Let me look at the books and get back to you.” And with that, the seed is cast.
The most important part is that the mascot belongs to your workers, not to you. As the owner of the business, you are the parent in this situation, and as soon as parents start to do something, it stops being fun. You can introduce the idea, but you can’t make the embrace it without ruining it. This is like a plant you have to grow out of the ground. Pulling on it will only tear it out by the roots. You nurture it, but you can’t force it.
Julie Hartwell loves art, design, branding, and as you probably guessed, cats.
She writes for a living, currently for BlueCotton, which is an amazing way to live, if you were wondering.
Image courtesy Alan