Thinking about having a mascot built?Alligator concept sketch
Here's some thoughts to get you started:

Iguana concept sketch

What is a mascot, does my company need one?

A mascot serves as a symbol of your company or organization.  It is a one-on-one contact with the public.  Whether an animal that is part of your company logo or tradition, or a graphic representation of your business, a mascot is an easily recognizable, interactive link with potential clients.  The presence of a walk around character draws attention to your business.  Following the example of schools and sports teams, which have rallied around mascots for years, business and organizations have increasingly sought mascots to represent them in public.  They are the most rapidly recognized item at a sports game, parade, or meeting.  The success of mascots lies in their approachability and memorability.

What type of mascot may be right for me?Squid concept sketch

First, think about what you want the mascot to do.  Is it going to be used inside the company or is it going to attract public attention?  If you are using the mascot internally, at meetings or conferences, there are different considerations than a mascot which will be used to attract attention in a mall.  Think about any image you use to represent your company or a theme you could follow.  Many people think that a mascot must be a character, this is not always the case.  In the past, we have built everything from hammers to hippos to represent a company.  The key is a link to your company.  Think about who it's going to target and the impact you want the character to have.

How much do I want to spend?

An important question. How much you are willing to spend will have a great impact on what kind of look you can achieve.  Every question you ask or answer can come back to this question. Money is always an object.  Planning your mascot carefully can save money in the long run.  Remember that durability is one of the most important concerns in mascot construction.  Paying for features that will increase your mascot's durability up front will save in repairs and rebuilding.

Is there anything special I want my mascot to do?

Mascots can be made to perform a variety of functions.  From tumbling at a football game to handing out flyers at the mall, a mascot can be designed with certain features that will make the task easier to accomplish.  Increased visibility and lighterweight construction can minimize the difficulties the performers may encounter.  Planning the mascot carefully will ensure that the mascot can perform the functions you intend for it while keeping your performer safe and comfortable.

Where is the mascot going to be worn?  Is weather a concern?Cold vest

If the mascot going to be worn outdoors there are special considerations that must be made.  Is it going to be worn in Texas in the summer or in Alaska in the winter?  Think about what features will be needed to keep your performer safe. In hotter climes, a cool vest may be advisable.  In wetter climes there are features which suit your mascot to surviving the rain.  Remember that a mascot costume is typically not a wash and wear outfit and plan part of your concept around this.

What accessories do I want to buy or have made to complete my mascot?

Are there any props which will be needed to compete the character you envision?  Perhaps your mascot needs a hat or glasses or bag.  These can be made as a part of the suit or be made detachable, giving the mascot a different appearance.

Wally the Water Detective with custom built magnifying glassFinal concept sketch for Wally the Water DetectiveConcept sketch for Wally the Water Detective with performer perspective shown

What size does this mascot need to be?

The answer to this question must come in two parts.  In the designing stage there are two concerns: the size of the person wearing the mascot and the over all dimensions of the mascot.  To answer the first concern, think about who will wear the mascot.  Will there be more than one person wearing the mascot or will the same person wear it?  What size range will it need to fit?  The answers to these questions will affect everything from the size of the shoes to the weight of the finished mascot.  As for the overall size of your mascot, consider first where it will be worn.  Will it need to fit through doorways?  Then think about your target audience again.  Will there be small children that a very large costume would frighten?  Think about how the mascot is to be transported.  Will it need to be shipped?  Think about making it collapsible or making it in pieces which can be disassembled and more easily shipped.  There are concerns and possible drawbacks to any solution to a problem, but consider the amount you may save in shipping costs by making a transport friendly mascot.

How well will my performer be able to see out of the mascot?

The performer's perspective will be limited in any mascot design.  The amount that it will be limited is based on the actual design of the mascot.  Most mascots have hidden viewports so the performer can see but the overall appearance of the mascot is not compromised.  In many animal type mascots, the performer will see out of the eyes and/or mouth.  In other designs, the viewport can be hidden in a variety of ways.

 In the "Little Arlie" concept a viewport was planned in the top of the hat.
Little Arlie concept sketch for 2 peopleConcept sketch for two performers inside Little Arlie mascotConcept sketch for one performer using two person Little Arlie

In the "ABBIT" costume pictured below, there is a viewport under the hat brim as well as the entire black letter "A" on the hat.
Final ABBIT concept sketch with performer perspective shownFinal ABBIT mascotFinal ABBIT mascot, performer shown

How many pieces do I want?

Since mascots come in all shapes and sizes, there are many options for the number of pieces your mascot may require.  Animal mascots are usually made up of the head, body suit, hands, and feet.  Mascots of differing shapes can be treated in a variety of ways, but some pieces will remain constant.  Most mascots will have hands and feet of one type or another.  Depending on where your mascot will be used, and how often, consider having a second set of hands and feet.  This way, if they get dirty or wet or damaged, you have a back up set while the others are being cleaned or repaired.  Think again of longevity: how can I make this mascot last 5, 10, 15 years?

Collapsible Amaray boxDo you want just one mascot or a couple or group?

Do you have a chain of stores, each of which will need a mascot?  Will you need an inexpensive, but eye-catching mascot that can be made in large numbers?  There are potentially inexpensive options to multiple mascots.  Consider making just a head which can be worn with a company uniform.  Often companies wish to represent multiple characters or the mascot animal in both a male and female persona.  Keep in mind the number of people whose attention you wish to attract.  You may find you only need one mascot or you may need two or ten.

Lion concept sketchWhat color scheme do I want?Lion concept sketch

Company colors, the ones used in your logo or a product you are promoting, are the obvious answer to this question, but think about how you want to combine the colors.  A great difference can be made in the choice of color combinations.  For example, if you want to use the colors red, white, and blue, carefully consider the dominant color in your color scheme.  There are advantages and disadvantages to any situation.  White stains very easily and is hard to maintain.  Red can catch attention from a great distance, but can be imposing.  Blue is a comforting color and easy to maintain as it can disguise stains.  Spend some time in planning a color combination that will be aesthetically pleasing and hard wearing.  Most importantly, think of your mascot as something that will be in constant contact with people and the elements.  Plan for it to get wet and have drinks spilled on it.  Keeping the worst situation in mind (your mascot marching in a parade in front of a marshmallow factory where the storage tank explodes on a rainy day), may prolong the life of your mascot by years.

What types of fabrics should I consider?

Most fabrics in mascot constuction will be obtained by our company, but in the planning stages the fabrics must be kept in mind.  Making your mascot out of a washable fabric will mean cleaning will be easier and possibly less expensive.  Again, durability must be kept in mind.  Shiny fabrics, like lame, are eyecatching but delicate.  If your mascot will be worn often, opt for a heavy weight, washable fabric.  More discussion about possible fabric choices can be made in the first meeting, where design issues are discussed.

How much is this going to cost me?

Cost is one of the few questions that is very hard to answer without a specific idea of the style of the mascot you want.  The cost can range from as little as $1,500.00 to more than $8,000.00. A final cost of $10,000.00 is not unheard of.  The difference is often made in the number of pieces you want, exact design and any hand work necessary.  After having your first meeting you will have a better idea of what the finished mascot will cost.  It is helpful for you to come into the meeting with some idea of what you would like to spend.

What do I do now?

The first step is to set up an initial meeting.  For the first meeting, things do not have to be set in stone, but having a basic idea of what you want is vital.  Coming into the meeting with a base concept for what you want, where the mascot will be used, the function it will perform, and other basic necessities will save time in the long run.