Ever wanted your company to use a character in your marketing? A well-executed character can connect with audiences and build interest in your brand beyond the average marketing message. We previously detailed how to create compelling, engaging characters with a combination of intent, design, personality, and voice.
Here’s a real-world, award-winning case of how we’ve used that same approach on a client project.
It all started during the lead up to Pixar’s Finding Dory. Our client, GloFish® Brand, had already gotten the attention of families for the appearance of their fluorescent fish and ease of care. With a rising interest in fishkeeping expected after Finding Dory’s release, everyone involved felt the time was right to take advantage of demand with a character.
We proposed a talking fluorescent fish character named Gloria GloFish®, who could appeal to kids and educate adults in marketing materials when necessary. Her versatility would allow her to appear in a national integrated marketing campaign, major trade show booth displays, in-store merchandising systems, live tank violators, and storybooks.
Gloria’s debut was set for the next Global Pet Expo, the pet industry’s largest trade show in the country. However, GloFish® didn’t want just Gloria. They asked us to create three additional fish characters to represent a few non-GloFish® species (tetras, cichlids, and goldfish), each with their own personality traits and intended uses for marketing. And so, Tito Tetra, Cid Cichlid, and Carnie Goldfish were born.
Our first decision on the characters’ designs were the medium. We could film real fish, animate them, or even use puppets if it made sense. Animation ultimately was the best method, because we could clearly show and control how Gloria GloFish® fluoresced. Depending on where she’s appeared, Gloria has been 3D animated (for tradeshow displays) and a hand-drawn illustration (for storybooks).
Now it was time to draw the characters. Starting with Gloria, we asked ourselves if her design should be realistic to her species (a GloFish® Tetra), or more cartoony so she would appeal to children more. Because of the science-based nature of GloFish®, we went the realistic route. The only slight exaggerations we gave her were oversize eyes to help convey cuteness, as well as eyelashes.
Next, we had to determine Gloria’s color. We chose the Electric Green® GloFish® color (GloFish® come in six colors) because it popped off the black backgrounds of the packaging better, and is a more welcoming color in general.
With Gloria’s design nailed down, we proceeded with sketches for Tito, Cid, and Carnie using the same approach. All three used the realistic coloring of their species, as well as fin and facial features. When animated, we decided the fish would not use their fins like hands in an exaggerated way. Instead, they would swim and float around naturally.
When it came to molding each fish’s personality, we had to look at how each one would complement the group.
For Gloria, the direction was obvious. As the “spokesfish,” she needed a combination of cheerfulness, playfulness, and bubbly outlook so she could be approachable for children and communicate marketing messages with honesty.
For the rest of the GloFish® Gang, we created detailed personality profiles with each fish’s Hollywood inspiration, age in human years, and recommended accent (when applicable).
For Tito, we envisioned a confident, sassy, self-proclaimed leader of the group. He could trigger action, dial up the fun, and use humor.
Cid was always a nerdy, but lovable, know-it-all in the mold of Cliff Clavin from “Cheers”. His drive would be sharing fish facts/knowledge and helping the group solve problems.
And finally, for Carnie, we saw a “fishionista” who was more interested in the colors of GloFish® than anything else. Her function was to highlight the visual aspects of GloFish® and its accessories.
Choosing voice actors was simple after all the work we had put into the other areas. With in-depth personalities and designs drawn out, our voice actor searches came down to finding talent that fit all the criteria we had laid out for each fish.
For Gloria, only a positive, perky young personality would do. We ultimately chose a voice actress whose very essence screamed Gloria, right down to the way she giggled after delivering certain lines.
Next was Cid, who needed that easily recognizable nasal voice that’s standard for cartoon nerds, without being overbearing. Tito was little different than the others, because we wanted a Spanish accent (since tetra fish come from South America).
But Carnie was by far the hardest voice to cast. With a similar personality to Gloria, we were concerned viewers wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. We eventually found a voice that maintained a young spirit, with a little more attitude.
Since the creation of Gloria, we have fashioned seven GloFish® characters, each with their own unique personality, likes/dislikes, and uses in marketing. They’ve appeared in tradeshow videos, social media, and have even been featured on t-shirts. As GloFish® species expand and the brand continues to be one of the most sought-after home pets on the market, we’re sure to see more characters join the “GloFish® Gang.”