What is the Purpose of a University Mascot?

On the field, in the community, on your campus, there is always that one person who is easy to spot and hard to forget. In the age of social media, university mascots are even more present as they bring the community to life online and off. University mascots embody not only who you are as an organization but also your school’s values. They were once believed to be a lucky charm for sports teams, originating from the original French name “Mascotte.” But what is the appeal now? Let’s take a look at the role that your university mascot plays and what to consider when designing your mascot.

Why Are University Mascots Important?

There are two universal values that every university mascot is driven by: engagement and empowerment. University mascots serve as a symbol of the university itself as it is a consistent part of the community that will never change regardless of the movement of students and staff over the years, but it also personifies your brand. Ask yourself: What do you want to be known as a university? Is there a given trait that you want to push your students to strive for? Along with empowering your community, a university mascot can engage every member of your school, from students, to staff and faculty, to alumni. 

Fun fact: Did you know that university mascots are one of the most photographed things in your yearbook?

As for entertaining, it’s not hard to think of an example of a beloved sports mascot. Versatile for school spirit, a university mascot can help entertain the audience at a sports game as you cheer on your favourite team and create a social media following for events and community engagement off campus. Make a splash with your recruitment programs to help people get outside their comfort zone. If you are working with kids, you will make a long-lasting impression as kids love mascots who can make them laugh and have fun.

What is the most common mascot for university sports teams?

University sports teams will often find their inspiration from their name, or how they want to be remembered by the opposing school. Are you loud and rowdy, or agile and quick on your feet? It’s no surprise that the most common mascots for universities are inspired by animals and historical heroes. The top five most common university sports mascots are tigers, wildcats, bulldogs, lions, and spartans or knights. The reason? Consider who they are trying to engage. Animals appeal to not just kids, but also adults. For example, bulldogs and lions represent loyalty and striking fear into their enemy. Spartans or knights on the other hand are associated with strength and courage.

5 Mascot Ideas to kickstart your design process

  • Knights and Warriors: Charge! Knights are hard-working and won’t go down without a fight. They may be the secret weapon to motivate your sports team or student body to keep pushing themselves to achieve their goals.
  • Birds: See your university soar to new heights this year! Whether it is embodying victory or grace, you can entertain the crowd with your high-flying antics and show off your prestige.
  • Bears: Are you feeling intimidating or loveable? A bear mascot can play the field and keep your opponent on their toes when you are friendly in the community or ferocity as a team.
  • Fantastical Creatures: What mythical creature do you want to see come to life? Whether it is a figment of your imagination or inspired by your community, your mascot can be out of the box.
  • Rams: Often framed as the most aggressive, rams are ready for a challenge! Did you know that rams are also known for their intelligence, bravery, and strength?

Looking for inspiration? Check out our character gallery to see what type of animal or object you most relate to!

While you brainstorm the right mascot for your university, we have a few tips to help guide your creative process.

  • Student engagement: From naming contests to creative challenges, ask your student body for their input! Getting suggestions can help them to better relate to your brand and feel like they are helping to contribute to the legacy of your university.
  • Look at your history: Your mascot’s backstory can reflect a few of your defining moments from history. The backstory is a fun way to incorporate your community and catch the attention of the audience.
  • Will you use it for marketing: A good university mascot can have more than one job. From social media presence to memorabilia and clothing items, consider how your designs can be repurposed.

At IMC, we want to help you create a visually powerful custom mascot that makes an impact. We offer free costume design, maintenance and accessories, and custom manufacturing in Canada and the US. Request a quote on your university mascot today!