Fiction writers use the concept of a backstory to describe what has happened to a character before the plot begins. They imagine relationships, character shaping events, and even locations, to build the persona of the character they are writing about. The fictional backstory becomes part of the novel, or it might just help the writer make the character seem more real while they tell the story.
Your mascot is a real, moving, three-dimensional character, and you can enhance your mascot's personality by creating a backstory. Having a great backstory will add depth and motivation. It makes your mascot's behaviour more consistent, and gives your performer a context to draw from when interacting with fans. Is your mascot shy in front of a young audience or the life of the party? Perhaps your mascot is always curious and this leads to comic interactions?
A backstory can express your mascot's personality. When posting messages or stories about your mascot on social media, aspects of the backstory can be used to create a dialogue. If your mascot has a specific message or set of values, you can get the word out with its backstory.
Barry the Bison, the mascot for the Wichita City’s Parks and Recreation Department has a great backstory. The City created an engaging story about Barry, incorporating the culture, history, and natural beauty of Kansas and Wichita. They also talk about his relationship with his grandpa, which highlights family values - and how he loves to try new things.
From Barry's backstory, we get a sense of the key messages the City of Wichita wants to present to the public through their mascot's personality.
- culture and history
- landscape and natural beauty
- animals and nature
- adventure, travel, and curiousity
- fitness & recreation
Wichita Parks & Recreation Department published Barry’s backstory in their activities guide, and used his image throughout the guide as well. They post pictures of him participating in activities and events on social media pages. He visits sports games, community events, and helps to promote the city’s many parks and recreational facilities and activities.
So what makes a good mascot backstory?
Here are some tips for creating an engaging backstory for your mascot.
- Use history and culture from your community, city, or organization.
- Use storytelling elements to describe the character.
- Give your mascot some context your audience will relate to. For example, does your mascot have a family? What challenges has your mascot faced and how were they overcome?
- Incorporate your organization’s values into your mascot’s backstory.
- Have fun with it! You could add some humorous elements to further engage your audience in a light-hearted way.
After you’ve created your mascot’s backstory, you can use it everywhere; on a special webpage linked to your website, on social media, brochures or print publications, etc.
A good backstory is a creative element in your mascot marketing plan. It can really help you promote your organization’s goals and values, and bring your mascot to life in the eyes of your fans!
If your school, sports team, business, or organization doesn't have a mascot yet, be sure to contact us for a free estimate to create a custom mascot costume.