What Cartoons Can Teach Us About Marketing

Scooby Doo, Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny and Goofy: These are icons recognized by nearly everyone, and they’re only cartoons! These fanciful creations have remained popular for decades, endearing themselves as part of the American experience.

Here’s what cartoons can teach us about marketing:

Branding works

Disney, Hannah-Barbara and Looney Tunes: These brands are as recognized as Coca-Cola, Nike and Microsoft. Like Coca-Cola, cartoons have shown us that mainstream repetition makes a lasting impression. And like Nike and Microsoft, the ability of the cartoon to adapt and evolve demonstrates that a well-marketed brand can have multi-generational appeal.

Diversification skyrockets revenue

Our favorite cartoons aren’t limited to the small screen. They’ve transitioned into blockbuster films, T-shirts, bumper stickers, posters , coffee mugs, toys and hundreds of other items – even theme parks! Few industries have harnessed the power of diversification as much as cartoons, which have found ways to diversify within a well-defined niche.

Great writing and great design sells

How endearing would cartoon characters be if they weren’t cute? What if they weren’t funny? Or reliable? From catchphrases such as “Scooby Dooby Doo!” to predictable Donald Duckian outbursts, the combination of skilled writing and design makes for memorable characters. The same talents can be applied to marketing, where getting attention and leaving a lasting impression – not to mention motivating response – are dependent on these skills. In addition, reliability leads to loyalty: Audiences love to anticipate how their favorite characters will react to a given situation, even when they already know. In the same manner, your target audience wants to be able to depend on you to deliver as promised.

Charm and honesty matter

Take nearly any cartoon, and you’ll see that the lead character has a good heart. Audiences respond to characters that emulate what they want to be themselves – kind and honest with a dash of charm. The same goes for companies vying for the hearts of customers. If you’re honest and kind, and have a bit of charm, you’re primed for success because your audience will respond to you.

A solid foundation supports everything else

Cartoons aren’t all fun and games. They’re serious business, yet the companies behind them have been able to maintain a layer of separation between the pure fun of the end -product and the high-level corporate dealings that go on behind the scenes. These brands have long endured because their products entertain as promised; so well so that many customers will buy other merchandise that simply depicts those products. If the core product – the cartoon – wasn’t high-quality, no one would ever buy the T-shirts.

Your marketing strategy can employ the same core principles cartoons have hung their collective hats on for decades. When you do so, you’ll enjoy the same rewards: Profits, power and longevity. The only difference is that, in your case, no one needs to drop an anvil on your head.

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