Standing Out From The Crowd: Using Characters in Corporate Communications

Corporate communications — whether internal or external — can be difficult to master, as your messaging needs to resonate with a variety of audiences. Employees and clients alike can struggle to relate to messaging that’s overloaded with statistics or jargon. That’s where the usage of characters comes in, providing a bridge for smoother corporate comms.

Using fictional characters to help you illustrate your message can lead to more effective marketing materials, training videos, onboarding materials, and explainer videos for customers. It can even give you a leg up in leadership training!

Learning how to integrate characters into your corporate communications can increase the effectiveness of your internal and external messaging in the following ways.

Using Characters in Marketing Materials

Tony the Tiger. The Michelin Man. Mr. Peanut. You know their names and faces, as well as the brands they represent.

Despite the enduring popularity of these animated figures, the usage of fictional characters in marketing materials has decreased significantly since the days of Joe Camel. However, studies show that it remains as effective as ever. In a 2022 whitepaper from Technicolor Creative Studios and the Little Black Book marketing organization, data indicates that just 12% of modern-day advertising campaigns use characters, down from 41% in 1992.

However, research also shows that ad campaigns including CG-animated characters increase market share gain by 41%, while those that don’t use characters see an average increase of less than 30%. That’s because characters and brand mascots help create a stronger emotional connection and deeper brand engagement with consumers.

Screenshot from the Takeda Hub showing people cheering by the side of a stream

Using Characters in Explainer Videos

The same can be said about using characters in explainer videos for customers, especially if your products or services are complex in nature. Fictional characters can help break down the important aspects of your product or service in a conversational tone, highlighting features in an engaging and easy-to-follow manner.

According to another study by the U.S.-based video production firm Running Pony, 96% of consumers have watched explainer videos to gain a deeper understanding of a product. In addition, 85% are more likely to make a purchase after watching such a video. The usage of characters in explainer videos makes them more memorable and fosters an immediate connection with the material.

Similarly, characters add effectiveness to explainer videos and other onboarding materials for employment candidates and new hires. These characters can walk your employees through safety procedures or introduce them to new products and services.

This can be especially helpful for businesses that operate in potentially dangerous fields — for instance, healthcare, construction, engineering, manufacturing, and more. Using characters helps viewers identify with and relate to your content, making this practice highly effective for communicating regulatory requirements and ongoing training.

Using Characters for Leadership Training

The Harvard Business Review recently recommended reading fiction to develop leadership skills because fictional characters often “struggle to make choices congruent with their values.” Studying these characters helps leaders connect with people from different backgrounds and expand their ability to manage morally complex matters in the workplace.

Popular fiction is full of leaders worth following — there are so many great examples that it’s difficult to narrow down which ones to reference. For example, Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series has many desirable traits. He has strong relationships with professors and students alike, yet has no trouble asserting his viewpoint when necessary. He’s a true visionary, yet he’s also emotionally intelligent and open to feedback.

Jean-Luc Picard from “Star Trek” is another fictional leader we can all learn from. He possesses unwavering morality and a dedication to ethical decision-making, which fosters a sense of loyalty amongst his crew. He also has great respect for other cultures and diverse backgrounds, which reflects well in today’s corporate landscape of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles

MTR Health And Safety Animation, 3D comic character suffering an electric shock after sticking damaged cables together while standing in a puddle


The usage of characters in corporate communications can also help avoid discrimination by creating non-human avatars to promote inclusive messaging. For greater effect, you can even combine character usage with gamification techniques and virtual reality (VR) training.

Contact us today to learn how we can create fictional characters to help your business communicate more effectively with customers, employees, and more. It’s an entertaining method of delivering important messages to broad audiences!

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